Mobile apps - the difference between native and hybrid apps

28 February 2019

Reading time 4 minutes

When considering a mobile app for your business not only should you be considering the app's purpose but also whether the app(s) should be 'native' or 'hybrid'. Confused? Not for long, as we explain the difference between the two below.

What is a native app?

A native app is where the app is developed in the code for a particular operating system e.g iOS for Apple devices. Currently Android and Apple iOS are the two exclusive and important providers of operating systems for smartphones since the demise of the Windows Phone and Blackberry with a combined global market share of approximately 99%.

It is important that the end user is considered for any mobile app at the planning stage to ensure that the app is developed using an operating system that will cater for the majority of potential customers and the devices they prefer to use. An organisation may discover on reviewing its data that Android devices are most popular amongst its customers and therefore an Android app rather than an iOS app or hybrid app is required.

Sometimes the differences between iOS and Android operating systems is overlooked and underestimated by clients who may have budget constraints when considering developing a mobile app on both platforms so we wrote this article to outline the key differences.

What is a hybrid app?

A hybrid app isn’t any different to any other apps that you will find on your phone, except hybrid mobile apps are built with a combination of HTML, CSS and JavaScript. They shouldn’t look or behave any differently than a native equivalent app. A Hybrid app relies on the latest version of the “web development” language HTML (5 or higher) being used, which contains extensive code to render a web page like a desktop application in a browser.

Often a hybrid app is usually built within a native app ‘wrapper’ which allows it to be downloaded from an app store and behave as if native. A huge benefit of a hybrid app is that it allows easy cross-platform development between iOS, Android and other operating systems because the same HTML code is used for each but embedded within a wrapper for the specific mobile operating system.

However, there are some drawbacks using a hybrid app as they require web connectivity and an inability to build one app that fits all operating systems. For example, iOS and Android have both got very unique user interfaces and the apps tend to be made specifically for these devices/software; whereas a hybrid app doesn’t always fit the correct user interface on the different devices.

Do you have a business requirement for a mobile app?

Get in touch through our contact form or give us a call on 0207 183 4742 (London) or 01392 424300 (Exeter) to discuss how we can partner with you to create a mobile solution for your business.