Apps 09

Choosing the right mobile application for your project: Native vs. hybrid

François Lévesque 1

François Lévesque

Directeur technique chez Witify

With the growing popularity and use of smartphones, more and more people are using mobile apps for a whole range of reasons - to shop, play games, access news and information, engage on social media platforms and other functions.

In fact, Canadians love their smartphones so much that their penetration rate is one of the highest in the world. As a result, the use of mobile apps has grown considerably.

But with competition between iOS and Android, how do you determine which platform will be best for your app? Here we compare the advantages and disadvantages of native and hybrid applications.

Native mobile applications

Native mobile apps are developed in a programming language specific to the device and operating system, and require the creation of a specific app for a target platform.

Native mobile applications are developed in iOS (Objective-c or Swift), Android (Java) or Windows Phone (C#/Visual Basic & XAML).

Advantages of developing a native mobile application

  • A native mobile application gives you access to all the functionalities offered by your device and operating system. You won't come up against something other applications can do that your application can't.
  • It allows you to use advanced functionalities, such as access to USB inputs, complex networks, memory management and so on.
  • There are no limits in terms of application performance and speed. This is important when creating a graphics-intensive application, such as a game, or one that will be used by millions of users.
  • It is built using technologies recommended and used by the device manufacturer.
  • It can provide a native "out-of-the-box" user interface - when used correctly, the application's UI updates itself as the operating system is updated.
  • There are no limits in terms of advanced UI customization.

Disadvantages of native mobile application development

  • If the app supports multiple devices (iOS and Android, for example), two or more separate apps will need to be developed.
  • No code can be shared between versions of these separate applications.
  • Development time can be slow (if two or more separate applications are supported).
  • Testing time is affected, as two or more completely separate code bases need to be tested.
  • Risks and maintenance work are increased, as the number of external dependencies is higher (two or more).

Hybrid mobile apps

Hybrid mobile apps are cross-platform apps that render the user interface using an integrated web browser, relying on HTML, CSS and Javascript.

Hybrid apps are developed with React Native, Ionic / CapacitorJS, Xamarin, Flutter, NativeScript and Cordova.

Advantages of hybrid mobile app development

  • Code can be shared between different versions of the application on all devices (often up to 90-95%).
  • Building the core part of the application using web technologies means faster development time (depending on your developer, of course).
  • Libraries such as Ember, AngularJS, React and PaperJS can be used for web development.
  • The core application can be updated without going through the AppStore (via "hot code push").

Disadvantages of hybrid HTML5 mobile app development

  • Not all code can be shared, so it may be necessary to write native code.
  • Speed may be affected, as interaction is via the integrated web browser.
  • Access to device and operating system functionality depends on framework or plugin support.
François Lévesque 1

François Lévesque

Directeur technique chez Witify

François Lévesque est cofondateur et directeur technique chez Witify. Spécialisé dans la gestion et le développement de projets logiciels et web complexes, il se consacre depuis 8 ans sur le développement de ERP, Intranets et CRM sur-mesure. Au fil de son parcours, il a développé une expertise approfondie en génie logiciel, se traduisant par une sensibilité particulière à la traduction des objectifs d'affaires en requis techniques précis. Ayant une vaste expertise en analyse et visualisation de données, François a également mené avec succès de nombreux projets de données avec des institutions gouvernementales.

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