Native, Web & Hybrid Apps – Assessing your Approach!

Native, Web & Hybrid Mobile Apps – Assessing your strategic Approach to apps.

April 3, 2023
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Native, Web & Hybrid Mobile Apps – Assessing your strategic Approach!

The mobile app environment is the epitome of opportunity for businesses’ and entrepreneurs alike, but the technology seems to be moving at such a blistering pace that it seems almost impossible to settle on architecture that will ensure enterprise longevity.
A mobile strategy is no longer an added extra but rather a necessity for any enterprise to grow sustainably. The objective of this article is to provide some insight into Native, Web App and Hybrid app technologies and what elements need to be considered whether you are mobilising your entire workforce, looking for better client engagement or simply pursuing a mobile app venture.
There is no architecture that is better than the other, it is simply an understanding of the three types of app software and which solution is the most appropriate fit for your unique business case.

Native Mobile Apps

The native experience cannot be beaten (when built properly) and often developed to please the user. Built in Objective C or Swift for iOS and Java for Android, Native apps support a much faster, responsive and reliable user experience. The application must be downloaded via the respective app store and accessed via the icon on your device. In past years what has set native head and shoulders above any other technologies was its ability to access device specific features such the accelerometer, GPS, contact list, camera, Bluetooth, push notifications etc as well as providing superior data security and offline usage.
The Native experience, although phenomenal when implemented properly, has many considerations that may lead to an alternative approach. The cost is simply exorbitant for an established business let alone the common ‘I have an idea for an app’ guy on the street. When developing for iOS and Android, each app must be entirely rebuilt, maintained and updated independently, leading to higher development and associated costs. In addition, each mobile platform offers developers their own development tools, interface elements and standardised SDK and often developers carry their standalone skill set for a specific platform requiring more than one resource to build an app for Android and iOS.
Native app examples: Facebook, Instagram

Web Apps

On the other end of the spectrum is the Web Application, which in its simplest form is a website that is accessed via the web browser on your phone. Web apps are built using web technologies such as HTML, JavaScript and CSS and take a ‘write once, run anywhere’ approach therefore minimising the cost significantly (Skill, time, maintenance etc). Movements toward allowing more access to device features have been made recently (Microphone, location, notifications etc) but essentially web apps have limited access to device specific features. Web apps allow unrestricted distribution, immediate updates, do not require available device space and the obvious cost and time benefits.
Web apps may be the perfect solution to test the waters when ‘going mobile’, they might also be a poor attempt at showing your client the quality your brand represents. Web Apps have a clear User Experience (UX) shortfall, they have limited access to any device features, are a horrible attempt at any form of adequate client engagement, have no standing in data security and file storage and performance is reliant on your internet speed. They are simply slower, less intuitive and lack a premium design and can be seen merely as an avenue to distribute content to your customers and provide a mobile arm to your enterprise or Startup. That being said, this may be exactly what you require before taking the plunge to develop a Hybrid or Native Application.
Web app examples: Financial Times, Trello

Hybrid Apps

Between Native and Web Apps lies what some call ‘the best of both worlds’ – The Hybrid App. The majority of the app is built in 3rd party tool such a PhoneGap & Titanium using the same web technologies as Web Apps (HTML, JavaScript, CSS) that then get wrapped within a Native coded container that allows access to devices specific features and advanced UX features unique to Native development. The web technologies placed inside the Native container allows for a single build, cross platform (iOS & Android) compatibility ie: It gets built once for both platforms. Updates are conducted for one code set, maintenance costs are minimised and development timelines significantly reduced. Outside of the costing aspect, Hybrid apps can incorporate data and file security, are available for offline usage and also benefit from App Store marketing benefits.
All of these are positives however, they too rely on the speed of the users internet (In most cases) and the UX is often slow and fails to incorporate the premium experience that a Native app can achieve. Perhaps Hybrid is the best approach to minimise cost and time without surrendering too much design and functionality requirements for your App.
Hybrid app examples: Netflix, Splitwise, Khan Academy
As noted, there is no winner of the three, each technology can outplay one another when attached to a specific business case. So in light of that we believe the following are 5 core elements to consider when establishing your approach.

  1. Target Audience: Who is using it and who will see it? Clients, employees, the general public, specific LSM and target demographics etc.
  2. Functional complexity: What service does your app provide? Content distribution, Gaming, Mobile commerce etc and what device specific tools does your app require?
  3. Quality of the experience: Your app is a representation of your brand and might require specific attention to UX design, speed, data security or it may just provide BI or client data to sales reps on the road. Each use case must be evaluated.
  4. Cost: How do the previous 4 considerations help you establish what you might be willing to spend in order to optimise your new mobile strategy or venture?
  5. Timelines: Time until launch, maintenance, updates. An agile approach could be the key determinant for a successful mobile strategy.

Each element carries their respective weights but are heavily reliant on each other in order to establish the appropriate approach when entering the mobile market.

Web Development

Custom web development is essential for African businesses that are looking to establish a strong online presence. A custom web application provides businesses with the opportunity to showcase their brand, products, and services in a unique and interactive way. It also allows businesses to target their specific audience, provide personalised experiences, and build long-term relationships with their customers. Custom web development has become increasingly popular in recent years due to the numerous benefits it offers to businesses. It is highly sought after because it can lead to increased customer satisfaction, improved user experiences, higher conversion rates, and a competitive advantage in the market. Custom web development can help businesses stay competitive in their industries.

By following the best practices and tips outlined in this guide and partnering with a reputable web development agency like SovTech, businesses can build high-performance web applications that deliver long-term success and growth.

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