Many enterprises are often disillusioned with the process of creating standalone mobile applications i.e. creating mobile apps across the three main platforms, Android, iOS and Windows. The process of creating mobile apps individually for each platform can be challenging in terms of design, development and maintenance. As a result, many enterprises are looking to create hybrid apps, where they can use a single codebase and run it across multiple platforms.
Just like native apps, web apps can communicate with devices, APIs and third party application by utilizing middleware solutions. Theoretically, this approach can lead to a reduction in development time as well as costs in case the mobile app is deployed on multiple platforms. In fact, this approach is not foolproof and comes with certain compromises, especially if the mobile app is relatively complex. Deciding, which development approach to follow should be made depending on the type of mobile app that is being created, the app environment and its end user base.
Enterprises with end user base comprising of different types of OS platforms (iOS, Android or Windows) usually opt for hybrid app development. This approach is more common in enterprises that are involved in creating simple apps for either third parties or suppliers. However, mobile app developers are in favor of developing native apps i.e. if the employees of an enterprise work on a single platform or if the target audience exists on a single platform.
Hybrid App Development Factors
If your enterprise is planning to develop a hybrid app, you need to consider the below factors before making any concrete decision:
Time and Cost
One of the most common misconceptions about hybrid app development is that it helps in reducing the development costs by using a single codebase. In reality, it is observed that the hybrid app development process actually increases the time and costs in various areas.
For instance, more defects and bugs are likely to be found during the app development stage. Furthermore, while trying to fix a bug, there is a possibility of causing a bug on another platform. Subsequently, it further increases the development time and costs to resolve issues. Apart from this with each and every release, there arises a need to conduct regression testing on all platforms.
In fact, it takes twice as much time as it takes for native app development, if we take into consideration, regression testing and debugging on multiple platforms and ensuring perfect rendering of user interfaces across all devices and platforms.
With the advent of cross-platform development tools such as Xamarin, it is possible to build high-quality and efficient hybrid apps, which ensure a high level of user experience.
However, mobile app developers believe that though hybrid apps are much better, but they cannot match the flexibility and power of native apps. Native apps are better in terms of performance, data requirement, user interface, ease of debugging, battery life and inbuilt security. Furthermore, native apps offer the best user experience as compared to hybrid apps.
The hybrid app development approach should be used depending on the use case and not on a generic basis. And most importantly, the hybrid app development benefits should outweigh the compromises that are made.
If business enterprises want to reach out to all of their audience, responsive websites are an alternate option. By following a middle path, enterprises can get a fair idea about the platforms their end users predominantly use. Subsequently, this can help enterprises in creating platform-specific apps, especially for those users.
Rather than creating multiple apps for different platforms, it makes a perfect business sense to create hybrid apps. However, this approach should be restricted to mobile apps, where the use case is fairly simple. On the other hand, where the mobile app requirements are complex with interactive features, security and enhanced performance, creating a native app proves to be more beneficial to business enterprises.