Hello Everyone! In this article, I am going to provide you insights regarding which Mobile App Framework to choose for development. A lot of companies/people come across this issue and are often confused about which one is the best for them especially startups. I am going to explain functionality, pros/cons, and use cases of all of them so that by the end of the blog you can easily choose which one is best for you as an individual or a company.
Basic Factors to consider while choosing a framework:
- Whether you are an individual developer or a startup or an enterprise.
- Amount of money you are willing to spend on development.
- Future maintenance cost that would come along with the apps.
- Easy to create and prebuilt components/ features.
- Performance of the application in production mode.
- Type of developers you currently have or you want to hire.
Mobile App Creation is divided into 3 categories: Native Apps, Progressive Web Apps, and Hybrid Apps
1. Native Apps
We know most of the market is currently divided into two categories i.e between iOS users and Android users. There are a few other platforms as well but their reach is very less and I am not going to cover them in this blog post.
Native apps refer to the 1st part apps which are created by the tools and programming languages that Apple and Google recommend and prefer to build their own apps for their Mobile operating system i.e iOS and Android. Apple uses the languages Swift and Objective C to create apps for iOS and the software package they created for this is called XCode, whereas google recommends the creation of Android apps using the languages Java and Kotlin and the software package they have created for this purpose is called Android Studio.
Pros of creating Native Apps:
Reliability: the reliability provided by these frameworks/languages is phenomenal, all these environments are tried and tested for years on their respective platforms and have yielded excellent result over time.
Feature Availability: native environment provide a ton of prebuilt features and components that are highly reliable and you can use them easily to create your application. These features have a high cohesion with the other components which you would use while developing in that ecosystem. Also whenever a new update is made by Apple/Google in their ecosystem you would have immediate access to those updates in your XCode/Android studio.
Performance: the performance of Native Apps as compared to other frameworks is off the charts. Using a native environment helps you create fast, and smooth apps with native UI/UX as per the ecosystem.
Cons of creating Native Apps:
Development Time: normally most of the companies target both the Android and iOS markets whenever they are building a new app. Using the native development system may become a tedious task especially for an early-stage startup. The reason it becomes such a headache is that you have to create 2 completely separate code bases for your iOS and Android apps which slows down the development time a lot.
Maintenance Cost: this point is a bit related to the above one as again maintaining two separate code bases with a small team of developers is hard. Also, you have to implement all your feature requests and fix all the bugs 2 times!
Development Cost: for creating and maintaining two separate iOS and Android apps you need 2 teams , therefore for you have to hire more people and your development cost would increase considerably.
2. Progressive Web Apps
Progressive web apps are basically simple straight forward websites that are made to run on the mobile device instead of the browser. This sort of apps are exactly the same as their website counterparts, it’s just that the website is served as an app on the device nothing more, nothing else. You can use the exact same code base internally for the apps which you use for your website with just minor UI/UX tweaks. The most popular progressive web apps are built using ReactJS, AngularJS, Vue, Ionic, etc.
Related: React Chat App Using Firebase
Pros of Creating Progressive web apps
Development Time: the development time in the creation of progressive web apps is way less as compared to the Native apps as the same components and code sections from your websites can be used in the development of your PWA.
Build / Maintainance Cost: maintenance cost is lower as compared to Native apps as you don’t need separate web developers and app developers, your existing web development team can create and maintain the PWA.
High Code Reusability: the same code can be used for both iOS/Android applications. On top of that, this is almost the same code that you use for the creation of your website. The code reusability is the highest in PWA compared to Native or Hybrid apps.
Cons of Creating Progressive web apps
Performance and Bad User Experience(UX): the performance and UX in a progressive web app are not that great if you compare them to a Native iOS/Android apps. You lose the smoothness and speed which your app enjoys in a Native environment and it doesn’t feel that good for a user/customer.
Feature Availability: progressive web apps don’t enjoy the features such as iOS navigators, sliders, etc. which are inbuilt in Native apps. Developers have to recreate these features from scratch and often if the developers are not that much experienced these features are not up to the mark as their Native counterparts. They are also not able to use certain basic mobile features that a Native/Hybrid app would have easy access to: such as Push Notifications, AR, Vibration, Geofencing, etc.
Reliability: progressive web apps are not as much reliable as a Native app as this is a comparatively newer style of deploying apps and is not that much tested if you compare it to a regular Native app that has been used and tested for years.
3. Hybrid Apps
Hybrid apps are the cross-platform Native apps in which our same code can be used for both iOS/Android application development. This is truly remarkable technology and is getting very popular these days. Some of the popular Hybrid app development frameworks are Rect Native, Flutter, Kotlin, Xamarin, Ionic Framework etc.
Hybrid Apps can be considered a middle man between Native Apps and Progressive Web Apps.
Pros of Creating Progressive web apps
Development Time: the development time spend on creating Hybrid cross-platform apps is on the lower side as compared to Native app development as the same code can be used on both iOS and Android platforms.
Maintainance Cost: the maintenance cost of such apps are lower as compared to Native apps as you need one engineering app development team which would maintain the Hybrid app and not multiple teams for Native apps.
Reusability: code reusability is higher as compared to Native Apps but a little bit on less as compared to Progressive Web Apps.
Cons of Creating Progressive web apps
Performance: the performance of a Hybrid App is greater than a Progressive Web App but is on the lower side as compared to a Native App. The speed of a Native applies between 1/10 to 1/20 as compared to Hybrid Apps, that being said this difference is very small, and some of the users/customers might not even notice it.
Feature Availability: feature availability is less as compared to Native apps as if some new features are released by Apple or Google they are readily accessible in Native apps but those features are available in Hybrid Apps after a while and some of these features might not be directly compatible with our Hybrid apps.
Reliability: the reliability criteria of Hybrid Apps is greater than Progressive Web Apps but lesser than Native Apps as although Hybrid Apps mimic a similar structure just like a Native app but still is unable to achieve that level of reliability that a Native app provides.
Related: Ionic Interview Question
The use of these ecosystems (Native, PWA, Hybrid) completely depends on certain scenarios and use cases that a company needs. One can’t simply disregard the other and say that this is the best one and others have no use. Such assumptions are completely false and should not be entertained. I will list down certain use cases/scenarios in which you should use a particle development ecosystem:
When to create Native Apps: A company should create a Native App when their main goal is to achieve a superior, highly reliable, and fast working app. Also, they are willing to accommodate good development and maintenance costs by hiring two separate teams for iOS and Andriod development and maintenance.
When to create Progressive Web Apps: Progressive Web Apps should be chosen when you are low on manpower and don’t really want to invest that much time in the development of an app as a lot of your customers use your product via your website but creating an app for the same is just a good option and is something which the clients want but is not a 100% essential. You can have your PWA up and running in no time by using the same engineering team which built your product website.
When to create Hybrid Apps: Hybrid App creation is an interesting category and is gaining lots of popularity these days. These apps should be created when you don’t want to spend that many funds on hiring separate teams for the development and maintenance of different app ecosystems but you still need a good product. Your main product is this Hybrid app, unlike a PWA in which you have a similar product running on a website. Hybrid apps should be chosen over a PWA when that app is going to be your core product and you can’t afford to have a mediocre app as all your clients would be using this heavily. Obviously there is a little drawback that a Hybrid App might not be as efficient and reliable as Native App but you would be saving a huge amount of money in development and maintenance costs.