Categories: Business / Mobile Apps

You’ve built a business case for your mobile app. Now the next question is whether to opt for a web app, a native app or a hybrid (cross-platform) app. Let’s take a look at the difference between the three so that you can make the decision an easy one.

Web apps – what are they?

Web apps are apps that function in a browser. You can think of them a bit like a condensed version of a website, and with much more emphasis on functionality. Unlike native or hybrid apps, you don’t need to download them from an app store, and they don’t take up space on your phone.

Which to choose: web apps, native apps or hybrid apps?

Which to choose: web apps, native apps or hybrid apps?

There are also more complex versions of web apps called “progressive web apps”. These combine some of the functionality of native apps with those of web apps. Think push notifications, gestures and vibration.

While progressive web apps at first only ran on Chrome, updates to iOS 11.3 made them an option for iPhone users, too.

Pros and cons of web apps:

  • cheap to build and maintain
  • run on all platforms with browser support
  • a good option for simple apps
  • slower, less interactive and with less functionality than native apps
  • can’t use all of your phone’s features

Native apps – what are they?

Hybrid or native: which app is right for your business case?

Hybrid or native: which app is right for your business case?

Native apps are apps that are built for specific platforms – ie, iOS, Android or Windows. They’re built using compatible languages and a specialized IDE (Integrated Development Environment).

The vast majority of the apps we build at Touchtap are native apps. That’s because the platforms they’re built for have their own specific tools, interface elements and SDKs. The result is fast, responsive, user-friendly and fully featured.

Pros and cons of native apps:

  • fast, responsive and offer good performance
  • better flow and a more positive user experience
  • more features and better personalization
  • easy to find and download thanks to app store distribution
  • more expensive and require experienced developers
  • not a cost-effective choice for very basic apps
  • you need to build an app per platform

Hybrid apps – what are they?

Hybrid or “cross-platform” apps span more than one platform. Rather than building one app for iOS and one for Android, hybrid apps let you build one app that works across multiple platforms.

Hybrid apps combine features of web apps and native apps. From the user’s perspective, they function like a native app as they can be downloaded from the app store and loaded by tapping an icon. But firing up the app actually launches a web app that runs in webview.

Hybrid apps offer all of the functionality with web apps as well as native app features. That’s because they have two components: the backend web app code plus the native “shell” that lets it be downloaded like a native app.

Hybrid app pros and cons:

  • slower and less interactive than native apps
  • more expensive than web apps
  • less customizable than native apps
  • bug fixing is more difficult

Web apps, native apps and hybrid apps: which to choose?

There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to building an app. Web apps, native apps and hybrid apps all have their pros and cons. As a result, the right choice will depend on your timeline and budget, your desired user experience, and the complexity of features required.

Our advice is always to consider your business needs first and then make a decision accordingly. We find that native apps are usually the best solution for our clients as they ensure a quality user experience mapped against a solid technical framework. But there are definitely cases where a simple web app is all you need!

If you’re trying to decide between web apps, native apps and hybrid apps and need some input regarding the best option for your needs, get in touch!

Touchtap is a digital agency specializing in mobile-first development.We can build your mobile app for you.

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