Native, Web and Hybrid Apps – A Brief Introduction
Since the iPhone launched the smartphone revolution, major websites and software programs have been compressed and restructured into smaller applications that can operate on a touchscreen device. This popularity and the ensuing demand for high-end applications on mobile devices led to a surge in application development, which can be divided into three essential categories: native, web and hybrid apps.
Native Applications – Designed to Operate on a Specific Mobile Operating System:
A native application works only on the platform for which it was created – much like Microsoft Office operates on Windows. Within that platform, however, a native application can provide exceptional performance. Native apps were originally developed by Apple, which had various programs built in Objective C to run specifically on their mobile OS. Later, Android developed their native apps in Java, which worked only on the Android platform.
This type of app results in a smooth user interface, quick processes and efficient features. However, a restricted platform prevents a great app from reaching a large audience. Developers must create multiple versions of a single app to accommodate users with different operating systems. This trend is not likely to change soon, because Apple is adamant on its supreme nativity.
Web Applications – Designed to Operate on Multiple Platforms:
Web apps, however, do not connect with native apps and cannot make use of APIs or native hardware features like cameras and microphones. Consequently, many companies are reluctant to fully convert to HTML 5.
Hybrid Applications – A Combination of Native and Web Technology :
A hybrid application is a combination of native and web app technology. Simply put, a hybrid app is a native app operating within a web browser. It provides the same functionality and efficiency for the user, but saves the developer from the tedious process of creating multiple native apps for a single project. Industry experts predict HTML will become more prevalent because of its versatility and efficiency.
Each type of application has strengths and weaknesses. Native apps are confined to a single OS, but they are efficient and compatible with the appropriate hardware. Web apps function on multiple platforms, but they still must connect with hardware features. Hybrid apps will most likely become the most common type of application, but this may be years away. Any developer beginning a project must decide which approach will best suit their needs.