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Native App Development Versus Web Development

Fishermen Labs
Development  |  Web
Planning the design of a mobile app

(Recently Updated for 2024)

In our experience working with diverse clients, the question of whether to build a native app, a web app, or a hybrid app isn’t a simple one. Each option presents unique strengths and weaknesses, and the optimal choice depends on a variety of factors.

The Evolving Landscape: Our Observations

We’ve witnessed firsthand the impressive advancements in web app capabilities. Features like web push notifications, access to device capabilities, and immersive experiences like AR and VR are no longer exclusive to native apps. However, our work has also confirmed that native apps continue to outperform web apps in areas like performance, offline functionality, and background processing.

Hybrid apps have emerged as a compelling solution, offering a balance between cost-effectiveness and functionality. By leveraging web technologies with native components, businesses can accelerate development cycles while still providing a rich user experience. We’ve found hybrid apps to be particularly effective for clients seeking rapid deployment across multiple platforms.

Core Differences: A Practical Perspective

  • Native Apps: In our experience, native apps deliver unparalleled performance and a smooth user experience, particularly for graphic-intensive or complex applications. They offer unrestricted access to device hardware and APIs, enabling unique features and robust security. However, they come with higher development and maintenance costs.
  • Web Apps: We often recommend web apps for clients with budget constraints or those prioritizing broad reach across devices. They are relatively easy to develop and update, making them ideal for content-focused apps or those with less frequent usage.
  • Hybrid Apps: Hybrid apps are a sweet spot for many of our clients, offering a cost-effective way to achieve cross-platform compatibility without sacrificing too much functionality. They provide access to most device features and enable rapid development cycles.

Shifting Trends: Our Insights

We’ve observed a growing interest in hybrid apps and progressive web apps (PWAs) as alternatives to pure native development over the past few years. This shift is driven by a desire to reduce costs, accelerate development, and reach a wider audience. However, we still see strong demand for native apps, especially for clients prioritizing high performance and a polished user experience.

Choosing the Right Path: Our Recommendations

Our approach is to carefully assess each client’s specific needs and goals. We consider factors such as target audience, budget, desired functionality, and timeline. Here’s our general guidance:

  • Native Apps: Ideal for high-performance apps, platform-specific features, offline capabilities, vivid 3D graphics, high-performance immersive (AR/VR), and frequent usage scenarios.
  • Web Apps: Best for content-focused apps, budget-conscious projects, and those seeking broad reach across devices.
  • Hybrid Apps: A practical choice for businesses wanting a balance of cost and functionality, cross-platform compatibility, and a streamlined development process.

Ultimately, the decision rests with you. We’re here to guide you through the process, leveraging our experience and expertise to help you make an informed choice that aligns with your vision and objectives. Remember, the mobile landscape is constantly evolving, and we’re committed to staying at the forefront to deliver the best possible solutions for our clients.

If your company is looking to leverage XR (extended reality) solutions to enable your business or activate your products & brand in an innovative and experiential way, please contact us to see how we can help you!
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