You want an app. Seems simple, right? But much like purchasing a car, there is no one-size fits all solution when it comes to mobile apps. Among all of the decisions you’ll need to make when building your app, from a technical perspective, the most important decision is what type of app will it be? And I’m not talking about iOS or Android (though those are also important decisions to make!). I’m talking about how will your app be built. Native? Hybrid? Web?
Read on to find out about the three different ways your app could take shape.
At Oak City Labs, we consider native apps to be our bread-and-butter. Native apps are built with a specific platform in mind – like iOS or Android. Users download these apps from the Apple App Store or Google Play Store. Native apps are capable of taking advantage of device features – like the camera, GPS, contacts, etc. – for use within the app. They can also employ push notifications and work with or without access to internet.
From a technical perspective, these apps have a codebase of either Swift/Objective-C for iOS and Java/Kotlin for Android and are built according to the standards set forth by Apple and Google (who also offer SDKs).
Side note: There is also such a thing as a cross-platform native app. You can read more about that here.
Side note: There are also such things as progressive web apps. You can read more about those here.
So what’s left? A combination of the two types we’ve discussed already: hybrid apps.
As their name suggests, hybrid apps are part native app, part web app. You download these apps from an app store, but they are essentially just a wrapper (called a WebView) around a web app. That would be appealing if you want to spin up a quick minimum viable product (MVP), which is often simpler to do as a web app, but still would like to have users download your app from the app store. The pros: you’ll have access to analytics of app downloads and usage. The cons: performance is inferior to a native app and you’ll likely have to scrap everything and start fresh if you chose to move forward and expand the MVP into a full-fledged native app.
We weren’t kidding when we said there is no one-size fits all solution when it comes to building a mobile app. Our best recommendation if you’re just beginning the app development process is to partner with someone who can walk you through the specifics of each approach and guide you into the solution that makes the most sense for both your short term and long term goals. Sound like something you’d like more information on? We’d love to chat with you!