Native, Web App, or Hybrid: Which Should You Choose?

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Information about Native, Web App, or Hybrid: Which Should You Choose?

Published on March 3, 2014

Author: softwebsolutions



Which Should You Choose? Native, webapp or Hybrid , each of these types of apps has their advantages and disadvantages. let's learn more about Technology Selection.


2014 How to Choose the Right Technology? Native, HTML5 or more… Mobile Application Development.


HTML5, Native & Hybrid WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING ABOUT HTML5 “I think the biggest mistake that we made, as a company, is betting too much on HTML5 as opposed to native… Because it just wasn’t there…” (Facebook, September 2012) “Hybrid mobile apps are the future of app development” (Nick Heath in CIO Insight, February 2013) “Mobile apps will soon be dead.” (Brian Kennish, former Google engineer, May 2011) “Native Apps are dead, long live Native apps!” (Dan Yoder, CTO at Border Stylo in Slashdot, June 2011) “All the problems [of mobile web] can be solved if Apple, Google, Microsoft and the rest will just stop shutting out HTML5″ (Dan Rowinski at Mozilla, November 2012) “HTML 5 is the way almost all applications will be built, including for phones.” (Eric Schmidt, February 2011) Everyone has a different opinion about the best mobile app solution and some people dismiss apps entirely.

HTML5, Native & Hybrid JUST TO GIVE A FEW EXAMPLES AMONG BIG BRANDS AND MEDIA: Facebook rebuilt their apps from scratch as native apps Linkedin had a HTML5 hybrid approach and recently went native for its mobile apps Twitter had fully native apps from the start Instagram is a native app that wouldn’t work otherwise Bloomberg replaced their native apps with hybrids to improve speed to market of updates ESPN builds all their apps with native because they consider it a requirement for great sport apps. In conclusion it’s a confusing world and there are no common right and wrongs! On the other hand there is usually is a best solution for each purpose and that’s what we will focus on in this blog. WHAT ANALYSTS ARE SAYING According to Forrester and Gartner enterprise apps are seeing rapid growth in hybrid and HTML5 app development which leads us to believe that the majority of apps will be hybrid or HTML5 apps in the coming years. According to Gartners mobile app landscape for 2015 this is what the split will look like:

HTML5, Native & Hybrid A mobile website is the basis of any mobile presence and the HTML5 has vastly imporved the user experience and richness of mobile web, but cutting edge innovation comes from mobile apps thanks the fast phase of development from APPLE, Google, Microsoft and others. HTML5 COMMITMENT. The mobile vendors have already embraced HTML5 Apple created Webkit, a complete open-source HTML5 rendering engine, that is the heart of the Safari web browser used in all products. “It looks to me like HTML5 will eventually become a way almost all applications are built, including those on new phones”-Eric Schmidt,Feb 2011 “Our commitment to support HTML5 and Adobe AIR development has resonated and spurred developers to create fun and innovative applications for Blackberry Playbook users”- David Yach(CTO) “IE9 is a great example of bringing assets together from across Mocrosoft to improve the windows Phone experience. We need to give people, that full web,the full internet….like they expect with the PC”-Steve Balmer HTML5 FORECASTS Its early days but HTML5 will be huge. There are currently 100m real HTML5 enabled phone/tablets(ABI) There will be one billion HTML5-capable phones sold in 2013(Strategy Eye) There will be more than 2.1 billion mobile devices with HTML5 browsers by 2016(ABI)

HTML5, Native & Hybrid HTML5 COMPLIANT BROWSERS Which browsers are HTML5 compliant? If you define an “HTML5 browser” as one that supports all features of HTML5 than there are precisely zero in existence. If you define an “HTML5 browser” as one that can consume some HTML5 features, than all browsers are “HTML5 compliant”. APPS VS MOBILE WEB APPS. Web Pages Mobile Apps Development HTML, CSS, JavaScript Objective C, Java or others Personalization Via cookies Via GPS location, contacts Discovery Via any search engine Via certain app stores Distribution Via any website Via certain app stores Availability On any browser On specific smartphone Monetization ads Micro-payment, ads Success criteria Unique visitors Downloads HTML5 PROS Why do brands and developers choose HTML5? Multi-platform- One core code base for multiple platforms making it easier to develop and maintain. Multi Channel- One code base reusable for mobile web and apps. Web standards- Open source technology. Easy install- install through a weblink/bookmark, no dependency on appstores. Device capabilities- HTML5 can interact with device capabilities: offline caching, data storage, video & audio streaming, Geolocation. HTML5 is meant to work seamlessly across mobile platforms and browsers.

HTML5, Native & Hybrid HTML5 web apps can be installed from the web as icons on your home screen across any phone. Developers like HTML because it is a familiar language to most of them. HTML5 apps don’t have to share revenues with APPLE, Google or Microsoft. HTML5 CONS Why HTML5 might not be a good idea. Still a work in progress. Has not yet been standardized.(The W3C expects official completion of the HTML5 set of standards in 2014 and final recommendation by 2022) Without app store visibility, your app won’t get consistent visibility through web that it can through app stores.(Only good for apps that don’t depend on app stores for visibility) Fragmentation- It isn’t really cross platform yet: Differences across platform for fonts, form widgets, video encoding, cache size, screen resolutions. A rethink of the UI is needed to work cross platform. Native UI- Almost impossible to deliver a native UI experience. To successes in an ever-changing market your app should keep up with the newest coolest hardware of the devices- meaning a native app. WHAT ABOUT HYBRIDS? The hybrid approach can help bridge the gap between native and HTML5. Frameworks can help build a “cross –platform, native like” web app. Frameworks, Sencha Touch, jQuery Mobile, jQTouch and Titanium. Deploy a Web app inside a native wrapper. The easiest way to do this is via Phone Gap. “We know from painful experience that letting a third party layer of software comes between the platform and the developer ultimately results in sub-standard apps and hinders the enhancement and progress of the platform” Steve Jobs

HTML5, Native & Hybrid FEATURE MATRIX – OVERVIEW HTML5 PhoneGap + Sencha Native Apps Web View Yes Yes Yes Media-Audio/Video Yes Yes Yes Location Yes Yes Yes Local Storage Yes Yes Yes Camera No Yes Yes Native Menus No Yes Yes Contacts No Yes Yes Accelerometer No Yes Yes File access No Yes Yes Notifications No Yes Yes Compass No Yes Yes Native UI No No Yes Access to full API/SDK No No Yes ONLY WITH NATIVE Some examples of the things those are always better or easier when with the native apps Only with Native Full native UI components Video/audio editing OpenGL graphics for advance UIs and Games etc On-device file management Use any kind of fonts Augmented reality EASIER WITH NATIVE In-App payments through the appstore. Social Network integration with native apps.

HTML5, Native & Hybrid HTML5 Conclusion So should you build your app using web technologies? No, if you are invested in native technologies already and don’t need to expand to new mobile platform, stick with native. No, if your app is complex and highly interactive- or if any performance issue is going to drive the nuts- consider native. Yes, if you’re app is fairly simple functionality and you are ok to compromise somewhat on the user experience and design. Yes, if you’re targeting multiple platforms, or your expertise is largely Web-Centric and if you’re willing to spend some time optimizing, than web technologies are preferred. And always consider a mobile website as a compliment to any mobile app. Yes, for the apps with limited budget that need to work across multiple platform and browsers. NATIVE APPS When Apple launched the iPhone appstore in 2008 Steve Jobs had previously talked about how great web apps were. Obviously he could never have envisaged how big mobile apps would become at the time but the simple fact is that native apps immediately outperfomed web apps in terms of functionality, user experience and performance and have ever since. One proof of this is that almost 80% of all time spent on accessing content and services through mobile devices is through apps vs 20% through mobile web. {Check stats from previous blog and link to this} So what are the pros and cons of native apps? Pros: Performance is better on native apps and will continue to be for the foreseeable future since the app platforms evolve faster than the browser Native apps provide more flexibility in designing and developing the user interface and thus a richer overall user experience Security features are stronger on native apps There are a lot more device features available including integration of the camera, accelerometer, bluetooth, contacts, calendar and 200+native development components for iOS and Android such as 3D support, image and video editing, notification centre, voice recognition, maps and more.

HTML5, Native & Hybrid CONS: Appstore approval rules and waiting times (especially for Apple) Appstore revenue share for premium content (games, subscriptions, etc) SO WHEN SHOULD YOU DEVELOP A NATIVE APP? The app concept clearly benefits from the capabilities of a native app (e.g. Instagram) Ongoing engagement using notifications is a requirement to keep customers engaged and up to date (e.g. Facebook or Linkedin) Security requirements such as encryption of content and authentication requires native app functionality Being on the appstore is a key requirement to distribute the application (e.g. enterprise or consumer appstores) HYBRID APPS Combining native app development with web development is by no means a new concept. Symbian offered this early on, Palm WebOS was entirely based on this principle and Samsung Bada also heavily depends on this. iOS and Android has enabled websites to be embedded in apps since the first releases and improved this experience over time. Therefore any app using webview could be considered a hybrid app. For the purpose of this blog the definition of hybrid apps is an app developed using a cross-platform tool or combining native app development with web technology within the code of the app. The leading cross-platform development tools currently include Phonegap and Titanium. PROS: Enables web developers to develop mobile apps without native app development skills Allows apps to be developed using HTML5 combined with proprietary code that will enable to app to run across multiple platforms Lower maintenance cost as changes can in theory be done once and applied to multiple platforms

HTML5, Native & Hybrid CONS: To make hybrid apps look as good as native apps across multiple devices require just as much development work if not more than native development User experience and performance will usually be a compromise Phonegap and other cross-platform tools will always be behind the native app development platforms in terms of functionality Lock-in / dependency on a cross-platform tool can be costly long term SO WHEN SHOULD YOU CHOOSE HYBRID APPS? Willing to compromise on UX for speed to market and cross platform support Only have access to web developers Appstore upload is a requirement Requirement on ongoing changes to the application logic Limited budget for cross-platform support Mobile web services without an API and therefore requires webview (common requirement for payments to avoid PCI certification for apps) Conclusion Native, Web App, or Hybrid: Which Should You Choose? Each of these types of apps has their advantages and disadvantages, let’s summarize them here. Device features. Although web apps can take advantage of some features, native apps (and the native components of the hybrid apps) have access to the full paraphernalia of device-specific features, including GPS, camera, gestures, and notifications. Offline functioning. A native app is best if your app must work when there is no connectivity. In-browser caching is available in HTML5, but it’s still more limited than what you can get when you go native. Discoverability. Web apps win the prize on discoverability. Content is a lot more discoverable on the web than in an app: When people have a question or an information need, they go to a search engine, type in their query, and choose a page from the search results. They do not go to the app store, search for an app, download it, and then try to find their answer within the app.

HTML5, Native & Hybrid Although there are app aficionados who may fish for apps in app stores, most users don’t like installing and maintaining apps (and also wasting space on their device), and will install an app only if they expect to use it often. Speed. Native apps win the speed competition. In 2012 Mark Zuckerberg declared that Facebook’s biggest mistake had been betting on the mobile web and not going native. Up to that point, the Facebook app had been a hybrid app with an HTML core; in 2012 it was replaced with a truly native app. Installation. Installing a native or hybrid app is a hassle for users: They need to be really motivated to justify the effort. “Installing” a web app involves creating a bookmark on the home screen; this process, while arguably simpler than downloading a new app from an app store, is less familiar to users, as people don’t use bookmarks that much on mobile. Maintenance. Maintaining a native app can be complicated not only for users, but also for developers (especially if they have to deal with multiple versions of the same information on different platforms): Changes have to be packaged in a new version and placed in the app store. On the other hand, maintaining a web app or a hybrid app is as simple as maintaining a web page, and it can be done as often or as frequently as needed. Platform independence. While different browsers may support different versions of HTML5, if platform independence is important, you definitely have a better chance of achieving it with web apps and hybrid apps than with native apps. As discussed before, at least parts of the code can be reused when creating hybrid or web apps. Content restrictions, approval process, and fees. Dealing with a third party that imposes rules on your content and design can be taxing both in terms of time and money. Native and hybrid apps must pass approval processes and content restrictions imposed by app stores, whereas the web is free for all. Not surprisingly, the first web apps came from publications such as Playboy, who wanted to escape Apple’s prudish content censure. And buying a subscription within an iOS app means that 30% of that subscription cost goes to Apple, a big dent in the publishers’ budget. Development cost. It’s arguably cheaper to develop hybrid and web apps, as these require skills that build up on previous experience with the web. Client often find that going fully native is a lot more expensive, as it requires more specialized talent. But, on the other hand, HTML5 is fairly new, and good knowledge of it, as well as a good understanding of developing for the mobile web and hybrid apps are also fairly advanced skills. User Interface. Last but not least, if one of your priorities is providing a user experience that is consistent with the operating system and with the majority of the other apps available on that platform, then native apps are the way to go. That doesn’t mean that you cannot provide a good user experience with a web app or a hybrid app–it just means that the graphics and the visuals will not be exactly the same as those with which users may be already accustomed.

Contact Information Softweb Solutions 2531 Technology Drive, Suite 312, Elgin, Illinois 60124 US Toll Free Number: 1-866-345-7638 Email:

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