We live in a time when people are more connected than ever, and mobile apps undoubtedly play a crucial role in the market and our day-to-day life.
The mobile app industry is constantly evolving, and keeping up with current trends is essential to growing your business effectively. With people spending about 90% of their time using mobile apps, it’s clear that having an app for your business is crucial.
As of 2022, the average U.S. smartphone user dedicated 3 – 4 hours daily to smartphone use. These numbers show that using a mobile application to grow your business’s visibility and marketing activities cannot be underrated.
Thus, increasingly, companies have to adapt their products to current trends by providing users with easily accessible mobile applications. The app world is a highly dynamic one.
A few years ago, the only choice available for a mobile application was a Native app built with the platform’s native programming language. Today, there are three main types of mobile applications:
- Native (eg. Swift, Kotlin )
- Hybrid (eg. React Native, Flutter )
- PWA (eg. JS, React.js )
You might be wondering how they differ and which would best serve your purpose.
Before we jump into technology comparison, I will give you a short overview of mobile app development.
We typically refer to developing applications for mobile devices such as smartphones, phablets, and tablets in app development. Although there are also apps designed for the web and wearables like smartwatches, we will concentrate on mobile devices for this article.
Specifically, we’ll examine mobile apps for the two most widely used and significant mobile operating systems: iOS and Android.
iOS vs. Android
The two most commonly used mobile operating systems are iOS and Android, which dominate the global market together. In Q1 2021, Android had a market share of 71%, with over 2.5 billion devices being used worldwide. As more people come online, Android is expected to continue to grow. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that you should prioritize developing for Android.
Global market share held by the leading smartphone operating systems in sales to end users from 1st quarter 2009 to 2nd quarter 2018 (Source: Statista)
iOS, on the other hand, is developed and supported by Apple and is exclusively used on their own devices, such as iPhones and iPads. Apple has complete control over the hardware and software, allowing them to regulate how their devices and mobile apps function closely. This has helped Apple maintain a devoted user base and a significant market share.
In contrast, Android is an open-source operating system developed and supported by Google, making it a more open platform than Apple’s iOS. This means several device manufacturers can use Android, with companies such as Samsung, Huawei, LG, and HTC being major players. Google also sells its own devices, but many Android users use other manufacturers’ devices.
Can I make an app for both IOS and Android at the same time using native technologies?
IOS and Android apps can’t work together, as there is no overlap between the two platforms. Native iOS apps cannot run on Android phones and vice versa. Despite some apps, like Snapchat and Instagram, appearing and functioning similarly on both platforms, they are in fact entirely separate and built independently.
Now that we’ve got the basics, let’s define native mobile apps, hybrid mobile apps and progressive web apps.
What are native applications?
Native applications are created using a selected technology for only one platform. Thanks to a narrow target group, they allow you to fully use the potential of a given platform by gaining access to all its functionalities.
The languages that are used to write native mobile applications are Swift and Objective-C for iOS or Java and Kotlin for Android. Examples of native applications are WhatsApp, Spotify and Twitter.
Since the application is created for only one platform, we can use the tools and language we use much better. Native applications are often characterized by much higher performance and better compatibility with the devices on which they are used as they have access to all the capabilities of a given platform.
- User experience
By using native components provided by a given platform, we can provide a more natural experience to our users so that they will not feel confused by the newly encountered elements.
- Development time & cost
Creating native applications certainly takes much more time because we can create on only one platform at a time. Thus, if we want our application to reach iOS and Android users, we have to write two separate applications, thanks to which the cost of creating such an application grows significantly.
If our application is developed for different platforms, the next challenge may be to maintain two separate applications, over time the differences resulting from the diversity of platforms may become significant, which may effectively hinder us from creating or developing applications according to the original intention.
What are Hybrid applications?
Hybrid applications rescue those who want to create a product that will go to many platforms simultaneously, thus maintaining only one codebase on which only one team of developers can work.
Thanks to modern solutions, hybrid applications can resemble native ones without limiting access to native solutions. Currently, the most popular technologies used to create hybrid applications are React Native and Flutter.
The main idea of hybrid applications is the principle of “Write once, use everywhere”, thanks to which, by applying the appropriate abstraction, we are able to create solutions that will eventually work on each of the platforms. Additionally, the time we have to devote to creating an application that will go to many platforms significantly decreases, which also translates into the cost of the final product.
The frameworks used to create hybrid applications very often share the language with their counterparts used in creating web applications, so knowing one of them will be relatively easy for us to create an application in a new environment.
Many people and companies contributing to this community share solutions and libraries that allow us to implement a given functionality in our application quickly. It is also a great opportunity for people willing to help or learn and thus want to support a given open-source project with their commitment.
If it happens that our application is very complex or its operations are complicated, it may turn out that the application’s performance will drop. As a result, we will have to consider an alternative solution that will not be so burdensome.
In a significant number of cases, the performance that hybrid applications can provide is completely sufficient and nothing prevents us from enjoying the fluidity known from native solutions.
People behind hybrid solutions are aware of this and with each new version, they try to optimize their operation, an example may be the recently available completely new React Native architecture, which effectively minimizes the distance between the performance of native and hybrid applications.
- Uncertain libraries
The multitude of libraries proposed by the community also has its dark side, easy access to creating and sharing its solutions, unfortunately, does not guarantee their quality.
So the library we want to use in our application may perform a given functionality in a suboptimal or utterly incorrect way.
We rely on the community’s opinion to minimize the risk of a wrong decision when choosing a library. It can easily let us verify how popular a given solution is and whether its users are satisfied.
- Many platforms
In most cases, creating one solution that will eventually go to many platforms is a huge advantage. Still, sometimes we can come across a situation where differences between platforms will stand in our way, in which case we will have nothing else to do but adapt a piece of code to the appropriate platform so that get the desired effect.
Progressive Web Apps – (PWA)
PWAs are accessible from any device with an internet connection and a modern browser. This makes it easy for users to access the app without downloading it from an app store, making it accessible to a broader audience.
PWAs are designed to work offline or with poor network connections, making them highly reliable, especially for users who may not have access to a reliable internet connection.
- Low Cost
Since PWAs do not require users to download an app from an app store, it eliminates the need for app store listing fees, reducing the overall development and maintenance cost.
- Limited functionality
While PWAs offer many of the same features as native apps, they may have limited functionality compared to native apps. For example, they may not have access to certain device capabilities such as the camera or microphone, which can limit the functionality of certain apps.
- Limited distribution channels
Since PWAs are unavailable in app stores, they may have limited distribution channels compared to native apps. This means that users may not be able to discover the app as easily as they would be able to with a native app.
- Lack of standardization
PWAs are still a relatively new technology, and there is a lack of standardization across different browsers, which can lead to compatibility issues for some users. Developers may need specific adjustments to ensure their PWAs work correctly on different browsers and devices.
So, which one to choose?
- Use native apps when you need access to the full range of device capabilities such as the camera, microphone, and sensors.
- Choose native apps for high performance and a fast, responsive user experience.
- Opt for native apps when you want to create a platform-specific experience tailored to each platform’s design and user interface guidelines.
- Consider native apps for applications that require offline functionality or need to store large amounts of data on the device.
- Use hybrid apps when targeting multiple platforms and wanting to maintain only one codebase.
- Choose hybrid apps for their cost-effectiveness, as they allow you to create a single solution that works on multiple platforms.
- Opt for hybrid apps when you have web development experience and want to leverage your existing skills in a mobile environment.
- Consider hybrid apps for applications that have moderate to low complexity and do not require extensive access to device capabilities.
Progressive Web Apps (PWAs)
- Use PWAs to provide a native app-like experience through a web browser.
- Choose PWAs for their accessibility, as they are available on any device with an internet connection and a modern browser.
- Opt for PWAs when you want to reach a wider audience and eliminate the need for app store downloads.
- Consider PWAs for applications that have moderate complexity, do not require extensive access to device capabilities, and are designed for online or low-connectivity use.
Why choose SolveQ for your mobile app development?
At SolveQ, we strive to provide our clients and users with exceptional value and experiences. We understand the critical role of selecting the right technology to develop successful mobile applications that cater to the unique requirements of each project.
Our team of seasoned developers is committed to choosing the most suitable technology, be it Native, Hybrid, or Progressive Web Apps, to ensure the best possible outcome for your needs.
By staying up-to-date with the latest advancements and trends in mobile app development, we provide innovative solutions that surpass your expectations. Whether you require a high-performance, responsive app or an accessible web app for broader reach, our team is dedicated to delivering top-notch solutions to our customers.
Discover more about our work and explore how we helped clients develop robust mobile apps. If you’re looking to create a mobile app, don’t hesitate – get in touch with our team of expert mobile developers today.