Cross-Platform vs PWA vs Hybrid vs Native mobile applications

Nowadays, there are many options one can utilize for mobile application development. The same method may not be good for projects of different types, so it’s essential to be aware of all the methods that are currently used.

Mobile applications have long been mainstream for remote customer service. They are much more widespread than full-featured web applications. This is due to various reasons; the main one is the dynamic nature of our time. Everything needs to be done quickly and on the run – a mobile gadget is always at hand, which makes mobile apps really useful.

Let’s try to figure out what are the main differences between cross-platform, PWA, hybrid, and native methods of developing mobile apps. We’ll dwell on the differences between them and learn the pros and cons of each.

Cross-platform

Cross-platform implies the creation of applications that can work on various operating systems. After writing the application code, you can deploy it to different devices and platforms. This is a versatile approach that is widely used to save time and money for development.

Specialized cross-platform frameworks are used for this. An example of it is the use of the React Native framework. It is used to create applications that work on both iOS and Android platforms. There is a need for only one developer who writes a code one time and deploys an app to App Store and Google Play. There are also some disadvantages:

  • limitations in functionality and (in some cases) in performance;
  • problems with flexibility and adaptability;
  • non-native UI/UX.

PWA

PWA stands for Progressive Web Application. This is a technology that makes it possible for customers to install your site on a smartphone as an application. Using this method, you do not need to develop a separate site, application for iOS, and application for Android. You have to maintain the website only. In everyday life, people use applications of this type really often.

Such well-known brands, like Tinder, Twitter, Telegram, Uber, Starbucks, Forbes, AliExpress, use PWA-based applications as a basis or in addition to a mobile application.

The main peculiarity of PWA is an opportunity to turn a web application into a mobile one while getting the following opportunities:

  • saving the icon on your mobile device;
  • working offline;
  • having access to some of the functions of the device;
  • the ability to update a progressive application;
  • supporting push notification.

There are also some disadvantages. Those are:

  • limited functionality;
  • PWAs are not available in stores (Google Play and App Store);
  • they use much more battery power.

All in all, PWA is a great way to test the idea of ​ a new mobile application.

Hybrid

The main peculiarity of hybrid apps is that they combine features of both web and native apps. Those can be created using JavaScript, CSS, HTML. Actually, web and mobile elements are mixed, which helps to create a hybrid product that will be available on different platforms.

Benefits of hybrid applications include:

  • lower development cost;
  • developers are not limited to a single platform; they can create a hybrid application that will work on different platforms;
  • hybrid apps are a good option for developers who create applications with great visuality, such as games;
  • maintenance is easier.

In any case, there are some drawbacks that you should think about when choosing a hybrid application:

  • development requires additional time and effort;
  • app stores may reject hybrid apps that don’t work smoothly enough;
  • hybrid apps don’t work offline.

Native

A native app is a mobile application that is created for a particular platform and installed on the user’s device directly. The user downloads such applications through the app store of a particular platform, such as the Play Store for Google and the Apple App Store for iOS.

Developing applications for these platforms makes it possible to provide the best UX, corresponding to the current guidelines of each of the platforms, but you will have to write the application code twice – for Android and iOS. Using this option, companies can create applications according to individual requests. So, a native app can be utilized as an addition to a website or other channel of communication the company is already using. The main advantage of this type of applications is integrity.

Other advantages are the following:

  • full access to mobile functionality;
  • maximum flexibility;
  • native UX/UI;

There are also some disadvantages:

  • this solution is rather expensive;
  • there is the need to synchronize functionality for different platforms.

Choosing the best solution for your mobile app depends on many factors. The things you have to consider are your budget, target audience, and your product itself. Consider the number of features you want to integrate, their complexity, etc. If you still feel confused and cannot cope with it by yourself, the best choice is to ask the mobile app development company to help you with it.