Mobile app development is a booming industry, with millions of apps now available to customers.
For software developers, this has brought a shift in focus, with businesses lining up to have a top-quality app created.
As a result, many app development firms have chosen to specialize, catering to a select section of the market.
“Apps have integrated themselves into nearly every aspect of our lives: we use them to get where we’re going, to find a place to sleep for the night, and to navigate the ever-expanding world of content media,” Ben Lee, co-founder of Neon Roots, wrote in his recent report, The State of the Mobile App Industry.
When the Apple Store held the vast majority of apps, developers generally focused on developing for iOS-based devices, which made things much easier. However, Apple no longer holds the majority of the smartphone market share, which has forced developers to diversify to keep up with demand.
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One of the easiest ways to create an app that works across multiple platforms is to design it as a hybrid, which allows it to reside on various operating systems without being built specifically for them.
A native app can exist within a device’s infrastructure, accessing various other apps and features. However, a hybrid app has benefits, as well. Here are a few questions to ask yourself before deciding to develop a native app.
1. Can We Afford It?
As Lee points out in his report, native apps are more expensive to bring to market than their hybrid counterparts, sometimes costing in the millions. One of the biggest reasons to opt for a hybrid is cost savings. Since development teams often operate within a set budget, the decision may be made prior to beginning the project based on price.
2. Do We Have Time to Build It Native?
Time is another factor in the decision to go native or hybrid since a hybrid app can be brought to market much more quickly than one that is built for a specific operating system. This is especially true if an app is planned for a wide variety of mobile platforms since teams will have to build separate native apps for each. When a development team is tasked with working on an app that needs to be brought to market quickly for as little cost as possible, a hybrid is often the best way to go.
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3. Will We Update Frequently?
As most mobile device users know, Apple, Android, and other operating system manufacturers push updates on a regular basis. Native apps can take advantage of these updates, quickly scaling to work with the latest operating system. A hybrid app will likely need constant tweaks to keep up with the updates on various operating systems. Native apps are also more secure than hybrid apps, helping teams avoid the stigma of pushing out apps that are prone to security issues.
4. Can We Afford to Sacrifice User Experience?
Native apps can be designed with an OS’s various technical specifications in mind, which means that everything from swipes to font choices can be built to match. The end result is a more seamless user experience, but this also takes time to accomplish. Unless a development team has in-depth familiarity with an OS’s ecosystem, team members will need to take time to learn the finer details. As businesses feel pressured to create a winning user experience, they may have little patience for small glitches.
5. Is This a Long-Term App?
Not every app is meant to be on the market for years. In some cases, an app is designed to be on the market a short amount of time. A business may also create an app to test the market, with plans to improve it once it determines market interest. A hybrid app can be a great way to get an app on the market quickly, then go native with a future version.
Both native and hybrid apps have their benefits, and it’s important to understand those before a team makes a decision. In general, hybrid apps are more affordable and quicker to market, but native has been touted as the winner for user experience. Development teams should present the various options to clients and let them decide whether they’re willing to pay extra for the most involved process of developing a native app.