A few years ago, native was almost the only option, and it worked well for the simpler consumer-facing apps of the time. Today, in a mobile app development world dominated by cloud and courted by enterprises, making a choice is not that easy.

Mobile App Development Success Formula

Our mobile developers hear this question often: “I want to develop an app. should we build a native app, a web app or a hybrid app?” The answer, of course, differs from customer to customer as it is the purpose of the app that dictates the choice. The aim of this article is to help you gain a basic understanding of the different types of mobile app development approaches and make an informed choice quickly. Let’s dive right in.

Web Native Hybrid Mobile App Development

1. Native Mobile Apps

Mobile applications created for a specific platform, using special SDKs, are called native apps. For instance, if you use Apple SDK and create an app specifically for the iOS platform, using the skills of an iPhone or iPad developer, you will create a native app. The app will be ‘native’ to Apple devices, and it will be able to leverage platform-specific features like GPS, camera, etc.

What’s hot?

  • Can access all device and OS features
  • High performance and fast loading
  • Can be sold on brand app stores, transactions taken care of

What’s not?

  • High cost of development, apps created for one platform don’t work on others
  • Apps need approval of specific app stores
  • You pay a cut on sales – up to 30%

2. Hybrid Mobile Apps

One of the biggest problems with native apps is that you have to build separate native apps for different platforms. Hybrid apps solve this problem by using HTML5 and related technologies to build apps and using the device browsers to reach the mobile users. Such apps combine the best of web apps and mobile apps – they can access specific native features, and the same app works well on different platforms and devices. Such apps are created using platforms like Sencha and PhoneGap.

What’s hot?

  • Operates out of a platform-specific shell & can access specific device features
  • Can be sold and distributed as native apps through brand app stores
  • Single codebase makes maintenance easier

What’s not?

  • Effort and time still need to go in building separate shells for different platforms
  • You depend on development platform for latest APIs after updates in native OS
  • Hybrid apps can be slightly slower than native apps

3. Mobile Web Apps

Bradly speaking, mobile web apps are web applications designed to render well on mobile devices. The user can access such apps through the mobile browser. Such apps are built using traditional web app technologies: HTML5, CSS3 and JavaScript. As the apps are accessed through browsers, a single app can work equally well with several platforms.

What’s hot?

  • Cost and time of development reduces as just one universal app works across platforms
  • It easy to access as users simply need to access a URL
  • No app store approval needed

What’s not?

  • Cannot access specific device and OS features
  • Require constant Internet connectivity to function
  • Difficult to generate revenue as cannot be put on app stores

What’s the right approach for your upcoming mobile app?

The choice will depend on what you expect the app to do and who the users are. Pass your mobile app development approach through the sieve of the following questions:

  1. What is the budget for the project?
  2. How many developers can I assign to maintaining the app/apps?
  3. How important is interactivity and rich UI for the app?
  4. Do I need to provide offline functioning for the app?
  5. Will app stores approve the subject and content of my app?
  6. Do I need to target just one platform, or do I need to target two or more platforms?
  7. Does the app’s core functionality depend on any device-specific feature?
  8. What mechanisms can I use to distribute, monetize and sell the app?
  9. What level of speed & performance should the app provide?
  10. Will the targeted users always be online?

Asking these questions will help you arrive at the bare minimum that your app needs to have. Once you have that data, compare it with the points related to different approaches, and you will be able to make an informed decision about the most appropriate mobile application development process for your project.