Businesses stand to gain by making themselves present in mobile devices in today’s digital landscape. But the challenge is the choice that they need to take between a mobile web, native app and a hybrid app. That brings the question of which one is better as each one isn’t the same.
There are three types of mobile apps: mobile web, native apps and hybrid apps. Though currently there are pros and cons associated with each one, all are going to get much better in the future. The question of what mode of mobile app development to be taken can be answered only after determining your target audience. To a large extent, this will determine the right target platforms.
Native Mobile Apps
Having a native mobile app offer businesses a greater flexibility as generally these apps are fast, easy to use, and provide partial functionality even when there is no network connection. For a brand, a mobile app gives the much needed push to reach out to a wider audience and users have no qualms in adding an app from a trusted source as it offers better security and performance.
Some of the reasons for users to use native app includes efficiency, speed, look and feel, better user experience etc along with other set of functionality of the device, including the camera, compass, accelerometer, notifications and swipe gestures. Also to mention is that the native apps can work offline as well.
However, there is a downside to native mobile apps due to compatibility issues for multiple devices. Add to this, there are other issues like app crash, features not working, app not opening commonly heard among users. The other major issue is about continuous updating and testing for the apps.
While larger brands or products can afford to have a native mobile app, small scale businesses usually adopt to the mobile web as it has significant advantages. Businesses who are eager to have a mobile presence in a cost effective manner prefers responsive web site that renders well to the device’s display capabilities. This also gives the flexibility for the users to search the site that can be accessed just by clicking on a link.
Mobile websites are easier to develop and update. Though mobile web sites inevitably work better compared to a full-fledged site on a device, it is not always better if you take into account the limitations of the devices.
If you look at the disadvantages of mobile web, there are many. From user experience to tracking of user behaviour, a mobile web does not offer the flexibility that a native ap offers. Also, mobile web cannot be tightly integrated with the device.
Hybrid apps lie between mobile web and native apps. Basically Hybrid apps combine elements of both native and web technologies or in other words it is a web app wrapped in an app format. Essentially, a hybrid app is a native app with a browser embedded within it. This is a great way to take the web content to publish in any app store.
Hybrid app advantages include access to device data like GPS, Camera etc while offering other functionality like Push Notification and accessing address book information. It also offers the flexibility of working offline like a native app, but will work with previously loaded data, unlike mobile web.
For many businesses, it can be a combination of both. Mobile web can be used for a casual website, but for brands and products, a native app makes sense. For enterprise apps, it can be either native app or hybrid. Hence suggestion would be, instead of going with one mode, consider using multiple modes into your mobile strategy.