Choosing the right mobile app for your project: Native vs cross-platform vs hybrid

Typically there are three choices to develop the mobile apps native, web, and hybrid applications. Now, which one is better for you, can be decided only once you analyze each of them deeply and know which one best suits to your requirements.
Here is the brief comparison which can help you to find the better one.

1. Cross-platform app development
Where a mobile application is called ‘cross-platform’, it has been developed for all platforms at the same time, using HTML, CSS and JavaScript (or another language) and can be adapted for the most devices.

Choose cross-platform development if:
* You want to develop a quick prototype to test and validate a simple concept
* You need a temporary ‘stopgap’ or promotional application which has a limited lifespan. E.g. a mobile app that accompanies an event
* Your application has a simple user interface and has limited user interaction, such as listing and showing news content
* Your user interface has limited scrolling and swiping and users will not be affected by a sluggish screen response
* Your application does not interact with any device hardware, camera, microphone, geolocation, accelerometer etc.
* Your application does not process complex data or work with audio or video
* You are primarily targeting one OS, such as a corporate application, and you do not need a specific user interface that follows guidelines of each platform

Some advantage of Cross-platform apps
• Reduced Development Cost (and Time) — Cross-platform tools let the developers reuse much of their code for various mobile platforms.
• Using cross platform tools, we find we can typically save 70% of the development work on a second mobile platform, having developed the first one in a cross platform tool (although your mileage can vary, depending the app).
• Ease of Finding Developers — There’s a global shortage of mobile developers right now. You probably didn’t need me to tell you that.
• Cross platform tools are based on well known web technologies such as HTML, CSS and Javascript. So again, it becomes relatively easy for web developers to pick these up an learn them.

Some drawbacks are
• Not all Native Features are Accessible — Cross-platform tools there’s still some concern that Apple will announce some great new feature and your developers can’t access it for a while, until the tools vendor gets around to supporting the new feature.

• Worse Performance & Size — Cross-platform tools might be slower than native tools because the tools generate code that may not be as efficient as the code a really good native developer might write.

• The cross-platform developer has less control of the code than a native developer, so you might need to accept this, or do some work to slim down the app.


2. Native Apps
An application that is built for a single mobile platform that is actually installed on the user’s device.

Some advantages of Native apps are
• Geo-location tagging allows companies to tailor their promotional and loyalty opportunities. Consumers can receive alerts when they are near physical stores, or are eligible for geography-based discounts.
• Analytics about a user’s actions can be easily captured and analyzed, making it easier to judge the effectiveness of app features or promotions
• Native apps typically run and “feel” better. Web apps sometimes are built to mimic native apps, but are restricted by internet speeds and the limits to the design options.

Some drawbacks are

• Native apps are often more expensive to develop, especially for companies that want/need the app on multiple OS platforms
• Native apps have to be approved by the individual app store, and garnering interest in the app can be difficult.


3. Hybrid Apps
Typically built with the combination of languages, including CSS 3, HTML 5 and JavaScript. Unlike Native apps, Hybrid apps don’t need separate efforts for each mobile platform. They are developed once and can be made available in all the play stores.

Some advantage of Hybrid apps
• Hybrid apps offer the most functionality and customization for the user
• Developers are not locked into a certain OS platform, they can instead build a hybrid app that will work with multiple platforms.
• Hybrids are a good option for developers that are building visually-intensive applications such as games.

Some drawbacks are
• Very complex apps might be best suited as natives
• Development requires additional time and effort in order to mimic the native look and feel
• App stores might reject some hybrid apps if they do not perform fluidly