An Inventory of Knowledge

Native, Web, or Hybrid Mobile App Development: What to Choose in 2020?

Hybrid Mobile App Development

Mobile devices have reinvented the way people go online. The Statista reports that the number of smartphone users in 2020 is 3.5B, which translates to 45.04% of the world’s population. This number is likely to increase by several hundred million in the coming years, making smartphones a primary way of going online.

Businesses devising to capitalize on this trend are encountering the challenge of understanding the diverse and ever-changing mobile ecosystem. The surge in smartphone adoption and the evolving user behavior is affecting the mobile app development process. One of the most challenging decisions you may face is whether to go with the mobile web app, native app, or hybrid mobile app development.

Mobile Web App:  A web application is basically a mobile-friendly website developed using HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and probably other web technologies. Users access the mobile web apps using a mobile web browser.

Native App: A native application is developed for a specific platform using programming languages supported by the platform, such as Swift for the iOS platform and Java for the Android platform.     

Hybrid App: A hybrid app is a mobile web app that runs natively on an operating system (OS). Developed using HTML, CSS, and Javascript, hybrid applications are further wrapped in a native shell, which can be deployed to multiple mobile devices.

Once, the distinctions between mobile web and native apps were very clear. However, the increase in hybrid mobile app development is changing the decision matrix. Some of the important considerations that can facilitate decision making are explained below.

Device API

The device API allows a mobile application to interface with the device’s hardware and native functionalities like push notifications, GPS, camera, dashboard widgets, and contact. Earlier, this was deemed a major benefit for native applications. But now, hybrid apps utilize native shells to access the full device API. However, mobile web applications have limited native access because they use the mobile browser’s device API.


Native applications run faster across all the operating systems. On the contrary, hybrid and mobile web apps operate on top of the extra layers which consume computing resources and reduce the app speed. However, a general thumb rule is that unless the application is graphics intensive, speed should not be a major concern for hybrid or mobile web apps.

Development and Maintenance Cost

Development cost is the key advantage for hybrid and mobile web applications as they can be developed once and then deployed to all major platforms. However, deploying a native application to iOS and Android requires writing two different codes for both the platforms.

Besides, native apps incur high maintenance costs since they need quick updates when new versions of the OS are rolled out. Similarly, mobile web and hybrid apps also need to be updated when new versions of the release, but the mobile browser or the shell makes this task easier.

Development process

Since mobile web and hybrid apps are typically built using HTML, CSS, and Javascript, their development process closely mirrors the website development process. Developers can leverage an array of libraries and hybrid app frameworks to develop an app for specific or multiple platforms.

However, the options are limited when it comes to native app development. In this case, cross-platform deployment requires separate applications for each platform. Thus, the development process becomes time-consuming and expensive in the case of native apps.

Offline functionality

Native apps can easily store and retrieve data on the devices so that users can access them even when they don’t have an internet connection. Similarly, hybrid apps can function without the internet because they run in a native shell. However, most web applications face difficulty in functioning when there is no internet connectivity.

Time-to-Market and Distribution Method

Mobile web and hybrid apps have faster time-to-market as compared to native apps. Besides, a hybrid app can easily be distributed like a native app (via an app store or direct download) or mobile web app (via web browsing). Thus, we can say a single codebase has ample benefits when it comes to go-to-market time and easy distribution.

Final Words

The final decision depends on your business goals and requirements. But hybrid app development is the only approach that can yield you the benefits of both the mobile web and native apps. Faster time-to-market, lower development and maintenance costs, wider audience reach, and intuitive features and UX are some of the advantages of hybrid apps. So, if you think hybrid apps can suffice your business requirements and yield you intended outcomes, approach the experts of our hybrid app development company.





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