Hybrid vs Native mobile application development
- You are deliberating on which technology to use for building a mobile application for your next idea.
- You are deliberating on which technology to learn as your next skill.
What is an operating system?
The operating system is a piece of software that works as a bridge between applications and underlying hardware e.g Ubuntu, Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, etc. Operating systems(OS) are arguably the most complex software systems humans have built. OS allows a software developer to interact with underlying hardware which consists of display, CPU, memory, peripheral devices, graphics, etc.
Mobile devices in today's world are mostly running on Android OS and iOS. Android is the leader with the highest share in the mobile world.
What is Native mobile application development?
Google and Apple provide the tools to develop applications for their operating systems. Both use different technologies, Apple provides Xcode and swift programming language whereas Google provides Android studio and Kotlin programming language for application development.
If you decide to choose Apple and Google tools which enables you to develop mobile applications specifically for their operating systems then basically you are in the world of native mobile application development. Application developed for one OS cannot be run on other operating systems.
What is Hybrid mobile application development?
Apart from tools provided by Google and Apple, there are tools today that you can use to build mobile applications. These tools allow you to write your application simultaneously for both iOS and Android. A single code base gets you running on both platforms. Examples of nonnative tools are Flutter, React Native, etc.
Let's start our deliberation
As a software developer, you might be in a dilemma when it comes to choosing a technology for building your application or learning new technology. As software developers, we want to learn skills that give the best output for the time and energy you might be putting in to learn any technology.
Rule of thumb: For most use cases (99%) hybrid technologies like Flutter and React native will suffice for you. So go ahead and pick any one of these.
I think for most cases if you blindly chose react-native or flutter and you won’t have any issues and you will be glad that you have chosen it. But for the edge cases, you will need proper review and guidance from a technology consultant.
I would say quickly implement the prototype rather than spending too much time on this deliberation, if you will fail it will be mostly due to the idea not due to the technology you are using. It is always better to fail quickly so that you can start on your next idea rather than spend too much time and money on building the prototype.
If you succeed you won’t mind spending effort on react-native and if then you and your team feel we should move to native then by that time hopefully you will have enough resources for that. If you fail you will be glad that you learned so many things and glad you failed faster.
Pros of Hybrid
- Hybrid technology allows you to write once and run on both platforms. This is great if you think same expertise you are able to utilize on both platforms.
- More job opportunities for hybrid developers are more and more companies are tilting towards hybrid technologies as they are cheaper and easier to maintain & build.
- If you need to write something in native then react native and flutter allows you to write some part of code in native.
- A plethora of third-party frameworks are available to fasten your application development process.
- The learning curve of hybrid technologies can be shorter at times.
- Both react native and futter have mastered declarative UI whereas native technologies like SwiftUI and Jetpack compose have not seen much adoption like hybrid declarative UI.
- If you are choosing react-native then you can use the same skills for web development as well. React was designed for web development but the same concepts are used by react-native for mobile development.
- If you are choosing react-native then basically you are using JS as a programming language and using which you can write your front end and backend using the same language.
Pros of Native
- Google and Apple are spending billions of dollars on technology. They release new technology very often and as a native developer, you can get first-hand experience of new technologies.
- The performance of native applications can be better in some edge cases.
- If you are targeting a customer base where the majority of customers are on one platform then it might be futile for you to learn hybrid. E.g in India 90% of mobile users are using Android and if that 10% of users are not aligned with your vision then you can simply choose native android over hybrid.
- Jobs in native development are generally paying higher than the hybrid.