Hybrid vs Native Mobile Application: Which to Choose?

Frequently Asked Questions

We specialise in bespoke, user-centric mobile apps and web products that deliver a life-enhancing digital experience.

You’ve probably heard these terms, maybe you even know a little about them. But do you really know what they are and how they’re different? When I first started getting into mobile app development, I knew needed to learn more before jumping into coding. 

So, like any good developer, I did my research. In this article I’ll share what I learned, illustrate the differences between them and hopefully provide some useful tools to help you decide which one to choose for your projects.

First, what are Hybrid Mobile App and Native Mobile App?

Before jumping into specifics, let’s get familiar with the difference between a Native Application and Hybrid Application.

A Native Mobile Application is an application developed for a specific platform. The two most common mobile platforms that are widely used today are iOS and Android. When developing for iOS, a native application is developed in Xcode with Objective-C and Swift as the languages. For Android, the IDE (Integrated Development Environment) is Android Studio, and the programming language can be Java and/or Kotlin. Therefore, to develop a product compatible with both platforms means developing two separate apps, one for each platform. This then means that the same product will require at least two developers (or even development teams) to build the two “versions” of the same application.

The most popular framework to develop Hybrid Mobile Application is React Native. It is an open source framework from Facebook, which brings the concepts from web development into mobile development. This is different approach to development called cross-platform; using the same programming language and toolset to develop for multiple platforms simultaneously. The development of these applications is done in JavaScript, but the result is still a native application. This way, both (or multiple) “versions” of the same app are developed at the same time.

This brings about an obvious question: Why would a developer still consider developing a Native Application, when it would seem to be a waste of time and resources than React Native? Let’s continue, and see if we can answer that question.

Programing Language

In order to develop a native application, the developers must know the programming languages required for each specific platform, while development with React Native only requires JavaScript to create an app for both Android and iOS. 

When it comes to debugging, JavaScript is easier than Java, Objective-C, or Swift. However, with JavaScript it is easier for errors to hide in the code. This is because Java, Objective C, and Swift are so-called “strict” languages and have a functionality called compile time type-checking, which can remove many potential errors before even running the code.

It’s also important to consider that for most part it is easier to learn to code with React Native, which also operates with the philosophy, “Write ONE, debug EVERYWHERE”.

Web development Influence

Because Native app development is very different from from web engineering, a developer working in both environments must have the skill sets specific to each. On the other hand, because React Native grew out of web application development, there’s a built-in connection between web and mobile applications. With a common toolset, architecture, and debugging flow, a web app coder can easily develop a mobile app with React Native.

APIs and third-party libraries

Without any requirement of additional integration, Native app functionality can be directly integrated APIs or third-party libraries. On the other hand, some APIs and third-party libraries don’t support React Native, which means that native modules will have to be inserted into the React Native code for functionality. This functionality requirement must be assessed early in the development process because, ironically, you’ll be using Java or Swift to write the additional code—exactly what you were avoiding by using React Native in the first place. 

Community and reusable components

Currently, React Native enjoys quite a big community with almost 29,000 members. Due to its open-source environment, you can imagine the number of reusable components you can utilize for your application. This is one of many reasons React Native is so widely-used and trusted. The same just can’t be said for more restricted and proprietary Native Application development. 

Mobile application performance

Native development undoubtedly has a performance advantage within the context of complex technologies as IoT or AR/VR. Native development can provide a more straightforward implementation of tech components and offer enhanced performance. In addition, it can improve interface responsiveness, which is not a competitive advantage of React Native. 

Store acceptance

For most mobile developers, successfully publishing apps can be considered the main objective when coding an app. No matter the method of development, any app submitted to CH Play or Apple’s App Store is subject to verification before being featured on either platform. Generally speaking, apps built through native development seem to be more reliable initially, but as long as the developer follows essential programming guidelines, both Native and React Native apps will usually be accepted by their respective stores.

Long-term perspectives

For now, Native development can have a few long-term advantages. For example, companies like Apple and Google update their products with maximum backward compatibility, meaning that upgrading to the latest version won’t decrease app usability.

Open-source products do not make updates their main priority, so here we can’t be sure about the consistency of updates. On the other hand, frameworks like React.js and React Native are used by Netflix, Airbnb, Skype, Tesla, or Instagram, so we can see that updates within these platforms will not be a problem going forward. 

Adamo’s opinions

So now that you know many of the differences between Native app and React Native, which one is the better choice? As with most things, it depends, and Adamo suggests that you start by understanding the objectives of your project. To help you with the decision-making process, let’s briefly summarize:

Hybrid mobile app might be the better choice when:

  • Your planning a mobile app will connect to Facebook 
  • Your team includes JavaScript professionals with web programming experience 
  • Your mobile app requires relatively uncomplicated code with reusable components 
  • You don’t have the resource to maintain and manage a large team

Native mobile app development is the go-to when:

  • Your mobile app requires high performance and unique, complex components 
  • You are developing a mobile app that requires API and third-party library integration

All of us at Adamo hope the information in article is helpful. Please feel free to tell us your success stories or any suggestions you think might help the community. Good luck with your projects

Drop us a message

Tell us about your business needs and learn how, together, we can develop the perfect app for your business.