When it comes to mobile development, there are two approaches: native and HTML 5 (also called cross platform or hybrid development).

Hybrid or Native?

Let’s say you need to develop an app for multiple OS platforms (iOS, Android, Windows Phone, Blackberry, etc.). Which approach should you choose, native or hybrid?

With native development you would have to code different versions of your app for every platform you want to launch on. The reason for that is that native development entails development with the programming language of the platform, so for iOS you would have to code with Objective C or Swift, for Android it would be Java, and so on.

This means that likely you would need to hire different developers for each platform, as it would be hard to find one expert programmer who knows all programming languages equally well. The same goes for your budget and time, as you would have to spend time and money for each version of your app.

Alternatively, you can develop your app with cross-platform technologies. This means that your app will be developed with HTML 5 (sometimes also PHP and JavaScript) and then wrapped with hybrid frameworks like Apache Cordova (Ionic or PhoneGap), to be recognized by various OS as a native app. In that way one version of your app will fit multiple platforms, with only minor adjustments. Due to this, and also because on average HTML 5 development services cost less than native programming, this alternative approach should take much less time and money.

However, an HTML 5 alternative has some considerable technical constraints as opposed to a native app. You won’t be able to utilize all of your phone hardware features (list of supported features) as well as with native and it would be more challenging to get accepted by the App Store. This means that there is no one-size-fits-all approach each project is unique and requires a unique solution.

When Native Is a Better Option

You would be better off with native development if your app has to:

  • perform complex calculations or works with large sets of data
  • process video, audio or images
  • have full access to all device hardware and functionality
  • have high GPU rendering (game apps).

When to Go Cross-Platform

Hire HTML 5 engineers whenever you require development speed over complexity:

  • you need to get a professionally developed prototype to test a concept
  • you need an application with a limited lifespan, e.g., a mobile app that accompanies an event
  • your app has a simple user interface and limited user interaction, such as listing and showing news, articles, images, watching videos, etc.
  • you would like to distribute your app with a link and avoid the hustle of app marketplaces
  • you do not need a specific user interface that follows the guidelines of each platform
  • you are not able to pay the price of native mobile development.
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