The moment you consider investing in a mobile app, you’re immediately faced with a barrage of terminology.
What are Native apps, Web and Hybrid apps?
More importantly, which is the most appropriate app type for you and your business?
If you’re looking for answers to these questions, then this post is for you.
One of the first decisions you’ll face – which type of app should you build? Unfortunately there is no single, definitive answer.
The debate between Native Apps vs Hybrid Apps vs Web Apps is still ongoing, with no clear winner – all three choices have their benefits.
Your choice will depend on several competing factors, including your budget and your deadline. The aim of this article is to give you a sound understanding of the different types of apps available and to help you to make a smart, informed decision on which technology you should use to build your app.
- The Basics
- Web Apps
- Progressive Web Apps
- Mobile Apps
- Native Apps
- Hybrid Apps
- Finding App Developers
- Case Study #1: Building a News App
- Case Study #2: Building a Social Network App
- What Kind of App is Best For Your Business?
Here’s a video overview containing the key takeaways from this article:
Want to build mobile apps without the usual investment and months of development? The fastest and most affordable way to build a mobile app is to convert your existing site into native mobile apps. At MobiLoud we built three solutions exactly for this – News, Commerce and Canvas. With Canvas, you can convert any type of site into native mobile apps. All your site features work out of the box. Get a free a demo to learn how it works and if it’s a good fit for your site.
When talking about ‘app development’, we are usually talking about developing for mobile devices – including smartphones, phablets, and tablets.
There are also apps for the web and wearables like smartwatches, but for the purposes of this article, we’ll stay within the bounds of mobile devices like smartphones and tablets.
More specifically, we’ll be focusing on mobile apps for the two largest and most important mobile operating systems: iOS and Android.
iOS vs. Android
Globally, most people’s mobile devices run on iOS and Android.
As of 2018, Android controls about 88% of the mobile device market worldwide, and Apple owns most of the rest. The number of Android users has grown from 1.8 billion devices in September 2015 to over 2.5 billion today. With more and more of the world’s population coming online over the next decade, Android will keep growing.
But that doesn’t necessarily mean you should develop for Android first. We’ll cover this later in the article.
iOS is developed and supported by Apple and is used only on their own devices, iPhones and iPads.
In other words, in the Apple universe, they control both the hardware and the software. Because of this, they can more closely control how their devices (and mobile apps on their devices downloaded from the iOS App Store) function, which enables them to maintain a loyal user base and a solid amount of market share.
Android is developed and supported by Google, often considered a more open platform compared to Apple.
In fact, Android is an open source operating system, which means that a number of device makers can use Android on their devices. Google sells a few devices of its own, but many Android users are using devices built by other companies like Samsung, Huawei, LG, HTC, etc.
Can iOS and Android apps work together?
There isn’t any overlap between the apps created for iOS and Android. This means that native iOS apps won’t run on Android phones, and vice versa.
Even though you see Snapchat or Instagram, for example, running on both phones and looking very similar, they were actually built entirely separately.
Now that we’ve got the basics, let’s define native, web, and hybrid mobile apps.
According to Wikipedia, a web app “is an application that is accessed via a web browser over a network such as the Internet.”
So how is a Web App different to a Website?
The difference is subjective, but most would agree that a website will generally just be informational and a web app provides additional functionality and interactivity.
For example, Wikipedia is a website; it provides information. Facebook is a web app that is more interactive.
Don’t let the word “app” confuse you, though. Web apps don’t need to be downloaded like mobile apps do.
Web apps load in browsers like Chrome, Safari, or Firefox and they don’t take up any memory or storage on the user’s device.
How are Web Apps built?
Unlike an iOS or Android app, there is no software development kit (SDK) for a developer to work with.
There are templates and frameworks for developing web apps like Angular, React, and Vue.js that you can use to get a quick start.
Developing Web Apps vs. Mobile Apps
As opposed to mobile apps, developing a web app can be simple and quick – although it can also be complicated, depending on your requirements.
It’s often a good way to test out an idea before investing in a native mobile app.
However, if your web app is relatively simple and designed for desktop users over mobile, you may miss out on mobile traffic, engagement, and revenue opportunities.
Mobile traffic had already surpassed desktop traffic by the end of 2016, so developing for desktop first may not always be the right solution, particularly if parts of your business revolve around publishing content.
Read more on the benefits of a mobile optimized website here.
Until recently, web apps lacked the functionality of native apps, like the ability to send push notifications, work offline, and load on the home screen. The internet was mostly composed of static web pages.
However, there have been a improvements to browsers and web technologies – and web apps can now harness all these features.
Apps that take advantage of these features are called Progressive Web Apps (PWAs).
There are a few steps you need to take in order to turn your web app into a progressive web app.
They go beyond the scope of this article, but you can find a comprehensive guide by Google here. You should also check out our detailed guide to progressive web apps that includes a detailed overview and 50 PWA examples.
Are Progressive Web Apps the way to go?
It depends what your goal is. In general, they are good for giving your existing audience a better experience on mobile than they currently get with your site. We recommend creating a PWA, but it is not really a substitute for mobile apps – it is more of an upgrade of your current web UX. Why?
If your goal is to cover an audience on Android and iOS, then progressive web apps are probably not optimal.
They can be a great solution on Android, but on iOS support is still rather limited, meaning you’ll likely be missing functionality you need in the long run, especially push notifications.
Consumers are also increasingly using Google Play and the App Store to search for solutions to their problems, as opposed to purely using the mobile web – so even though PWAs help provide a better mobile UX they don’t cover all the bases for mobile discovery.
Installation is also a downside. Although it is technically possible to “install” a PWA on a mobile device, the process isn’t especially straightforward and can confuse users – making it harder to get that valued real estate on their home screens.
PWAs can be a good way to quickly get a mobile-app-like web app into people’s hands. For the above reasons and more though, Progressive Web Apps are not a substitute for mobile apps – although they work very well together in tandem.
If you have a WordPress site and want to convert it into a PWA fast, just get in touch with our team. If you already have a PWA, even better, read this detailed piece on how to convert it into iOS and Android apps in just days!
Let’s move on now to mobile apps.
When we talk about mobile apps in this article, we’re talking about apps you download from an app store such as the Google Play or iOS App Store.
There are two kinds of mobile apps: native and hybrid.
We’ll go into what constitutes a native and hybrid app in more detail below. But first let’s quickly cover why having a mobile app, whether it be native or hybrid, is a good idea.
Why should I build a Mobile App versus a Web App?
Mobile apps have numerous benefits that web apps lack – they especially make sense if your product or service is something that will be used frequently or habitually.
Thanks to a combination of marketing and ease-of-use, a majority of users on mobile access the virtual world through dedicated apps. Mobile apps offer a more streamlined, ‘contained’ experience, that can retain users more successfully than a web app.
A web app is good for desktop users, first contact, and picking up referral or organic traffic – but it isn’t an optimal mobile experience for repeat usage. It Isn’t ideal for engaging users and building loyalty and habit around your brand.
Mobile apps on the other hand let you meet the expectations of modern consumers and offer them a better mobile UX through a less distracting, more enclosed environment and a direct route through a single tap on their home screens.
This is far more direct than opening up a mobile browser, typing in an URL, and waiting for everything to load.
Just having a presence on the App Stores can be a benefit for certain businesses too. A lot of consumers these days use Google Play and the App Store to search for solutions to their problems, much like they use web based search engines. If you optimise well for App Store SEO, then you can pick up new users that are searching for related keywords.
Getting users to your product the first time is easy. Getting them to return can be a challenge.
Push notifications will be extremely important for any serious mobile app.
Only mobile apps give you the opportunity to send well-timed push notifications to re-engage users, promote products and offers, and communicate directly with your userbase.
According to data from Localytics, when a user opts in to receive push notifications, they will launch your app 88% more than a user who doesn’t receive them.
Another key to growing your app is getting people to share the app itself or content within it to their friends.
This can be done on a web app, but it’s best done on a mobile app.
As an app user, you can quickly share to any app on your device (such as Email, WhatsApp, Messenger, Facebook, Instagram etc.) in a much easier way compared to a browser.
Time within apps
Users spend a lot more time on apps than they do on the web.
In fact, research suggests mobile users spend 86% of their mobile time using apps, and, from 2016 to 2018 time spent in apps grew by over 50%.
The popularity of apps has increased enormously and is continuing to rise.
Additional Advertising Revenue
One more advantage to building a mobile app over a web app is ad revenue, and the opportunity to use other app monetization techniques.
CPM for ads within mobile apps are generally higher than in web apps, and on the web in general.
Many people also use ad blockers for their web browsers which can lower your advertising revenue, and figures show that in-app ads are more effective than both mobile web and desktop browser ads.
Does this mean you should always build a mobile app vs a web app or simply a mobile site? Not necessarily!
As a good rule of thumb, if you can imagine a good portion of your users accessing your service or content once daily, then an app will make sense.
If what you provide is generally used once and never again, then don’t invest in an app and focus instead on a good mobile optimized web presence.
Now let’s go through the two kinds of mobile apps: Native Mobile Apps and Hybrid Apps.
What is a Native App?
A native app, or native application, is a software application built in a specific programming language, for the specific device platform, either iOS or Android.
Native iOS apps are written in Swift or Objective-C and native Android apps are written in Java.
How are Native Apps built?
For example, Swift or Objective-C is used to write native iOS apps, Java is used to write native Android apps, and C# for the most part for Windows Phone apps.
These tools allow any professional developer to develop a native mobile app relatively easily.
Benefits of Native Apps
So why are most apps native? The reason is that native apps have a number of significant advantages over the alternatives.
Fast and Responsive
Native apps offer the fastest, most reliable and most responsive experience to users. This is unlikely to change in favour of web apps.
Easy to tap into wider device functionality
Native makes tapping into the camera, microphone, compass, accelerometer and swipe gestures super easy.
It’s still possible using the alternatives, but it’s easiest on native.
Match app UI/UX to platform conventions
You’re more likely to please your users due to the way you can match each app’s UI/UX to the platform conventions.
There are dozens of UI/UX differences that make users feel at home. By building native, you don’t have to compromise with UI/UX that you hope will be user-friendly for all platforms.
Disadvantages of Native Apps
More than one codebase
iOS apps will not run on Android and vice versa, so you will have to work with different codebases for every platform you choose to build in.
Native Apps cost more, and take longer to build
Native apps cost more to develop than hybrid apps. You’re looking at $100K to get first versions out on iOS and Android, and that’s a relatively conservative estimate.
Most developers specialize in one platform (Android or iOS), so to have your application developed on both platforms will require two separate developers (or teams), which adds to time and cost.
Examples of Native Apps
A large number of the most popular apps out there like Lyft, Pokemon Go, Twitter and many more are fully native.
However, it’s becoming trickier to distinguish apps that using purely native code on Swift, Objective C and Java from apps that are relying on hybrid solutions or cross-platform SDKs, thanks to the advancement in hybrid technologies.
Building Cross-Platform Native Apps
As we said, the main disadvantage of native apps is having to develop apps separately for each platform you want to cover.
That’s still true if you want to stick to the native SDKs provided by Apple and Google, but in the last few years, several alternatives have become available to reap the benefits of cross-platform development without sacrificing the user experience or access to native APIs.
There are several platforms that allow for cross-platform development including Xamarin, React Native, Titanium, and Google’s Flutter, which are all worth a look.
Made by Microsoft, Xamarin is a platform that lets developers build one app that works on multiple platforms in C#. They also provide free tools to build, test, distribute, and learn from your apps.
Xamarin feels like a more complete development environment than PhoneGap or Titanium, even offering a test environment where you can test your app on thousands of virtual devices before launching (this is crucial for cross-platform apps – you need to make sure your app works as expected on both iOS and Android, and on all devices).
Xamarin also offers a few prebuilt apps you can use to get a quick start. Some companies that have built apps with Xamarin include Slack, Pinterest, and Honeywell.
Not wanting to be left out of the fight, in 2015 Facebook launched an open-source project of their own called React Native, which lets you build real, native iOS and Android apps with one codebase.
It’s not a “mobile web app”, a “HTML5 app”, or a “hybrid app”.
With React Native you can build a real native mobile app that’s indistinguishable from an app built using Objective-C or Java.
At Instagram, they published stats showing that for the features they built with React Native, the amount of code shared between iOS and Android was over 90%.
While React Native doesn’t give you access to all the device’s functionality, you can weave in native code if you need to.
It no longer relies on webviews and this results in a more “native” look and feel for your app.
Titanium has a great showcase of apps built with their technology on their website. Some of the more well-known apps built using Titanium are eBay, ZipCar, PayPal, and Khan Academy.
You install it like a native app, but it’s actually a web app on the inside.
The Native vs Hybrid app debate is complicated, and even though we’ve just shown you some key benefits of building a native app, there are certainly advantages to going hybrid.
Let’s take a look at them.
Say you have an idea for an app and you don’t know if people will like it or not.
Your goal is to put something usable into their hands as quickly as possible. You’re short on resources, so you need to create a simple version of your product that still provides value.
In the startup world, this is called an MVP, or minimum viable product.
Building a web app might be the truly minimal option, but it won’t really allow you to test whether people will download and use an app on their device.
A hybrid app offers a solution to this.
Advantages of Hybrid Apps
One codebase to manage
All the advantages of hybrid apps stem from the fact that, instead of building two apps, you’re building one app and simply tweaking it a bit so it works on both platforms.
With a hybrid app, you only have one codebase to manage.
You save time and money
As you only have to manage one codebase, you’ll probably require half the number of developers two native apps would have required. Or, with the same number of developers, a hybrid app could be published in half the time.
In addition, hybrid app developers are often less expensive than native application developers.
Easier to scale
Hybrid apps are easier to scale to another platform. Once you’ve built for one platform, you can launch on another like Windows Mobile with ease.
You still have access to device features
As with native apps, hybrid apps let you retain the same ability to access device features.
This is thanks to solutions like PhoneGap that act like a bridge between the native SDK and the webview in which the app runs. We’ll talk about PhoneGap below.
Disadvantages of Hybrid Apps
Performance is probably the biggest disadvantage of hybrid apps.
In the early days of mobile, Google and Apple didn’t give webview the same engines used by their mobile browsers, Chrome and Safari. Since then, webview has vastly improved but it hasn’t necessarily reached native performance yet.
We will get deeper into different aspects of performance later in the article.
Cross-platform development is tough
Getting your hybrid app to run appropriately on each platform generally takes substantial work.
In some situations, the total cost might become comparable to that of fully native apps, rendering the cost benefits negligible.
It all depends on how close you want to get to the “native user experience” or how simple your app is.
The UX of the app may suffer
iOS and Android users tend to be very loyal to their platforms, and since they’ve been using them for years, they’re used to how things work in native apps.
The differences are subtle but can be frustrating for your app users.
By building a hybrid app, you won’t be able to please both camps. Try too hard to customize the app based on the platform and it may end up costing the same as two native apps.
There are some ways you can do this which we will discuss shortly.
Hybrid App Platforms
PhoneGap is probably the most well known among hybrid app platforms and probably the easiest to begin with for a web developer.
These apps run in a WebView and are then wrapped in native code. PhoneGap then offers native plugins that allow you to use all of the device’s functionality including the accelerometer, camera, compass, file system, microphone, media, networks, notifications, geolocation, and storage.
Apps need to be packaged into binary files which will include a webview wrapper and your app’s HTML files, normally loaded locally on the device.
Our own take on the hybrid app, Canvas is a service offering anyone with a mobile web app or responsive site the ability to build a mobile app for it, with no development work.
As with our News solution, Canvas is offered as a service, meaning we will build, publish and maintain your apps for you.
Technically, Canvas relies on our own native codebase for iOS and Android, including native elements for navigation such as a tab bar, a push notifications inbox, content preloading for your pages, caching, and offline support.
We mentioned earlier that the main drawback with hybrid apps is speed and performance. We’ve been refining and improving Canvas over the last 5 years and hundreds of apps – so it can give the best possible performance from the hybrid model. We use the latest webview and caching technologies to ensure optimal speed.
Canvas is not a platform to build apps from scratch – but rather to convert your existing website or web app into iOS and Android apps. The great thing is that you can use all your existing features, content and functionality from your site in the apps, which will sync completely and update automatically!
We also set you up with push notifications on Android and iOS, all the native features you need to give a great app experience, and all the customization options you need to make the apps your own. Canvas works with any site or web app – and we get you ready to publish on the App Stores in under 2 weeks for less than 10% of the cost of native development. If you are considering a hybrid app and already have a web app or successful site Canvas could make a lot of sense for your business – check it out.
Hybrid App Examples
If you’re interested, take a look at some of these example Hybrid Apps – you’ll notice they look and feel great to use, and in most cases it’s hard to tell they’re not native.
- Marketwatch (built with Ionic)
- Sworkit (built with PhoneGap)
- Untappd (built with PhoneGap)
- Giro D’Italia official app (built with Onsen UI)
- Offcourse Golf (built with Onsen UI)
- Tripline (built with Framework 7)
Should you convert a web app into a hybrid app?
If you’re building an app for an existing site or you have a mobile web app that does exactly what your app should do (but only misses what a native app generally provides: app store presence, push notifications, home screen icon, offline use), then turning your site or web app into a native app can be both quick and economical.
You won’t have to manage two platforms (iOS/Android) separately.
You’ll have a single web app that covers the mobile web and the two major mobile platforms with your apps.
This is what we built our Canvas platform for!
How to make a Web or Hybrid App feel Native
The ultimate goal of a hybrid app is to feel like a native app on the platform it’s being used on. Here’s what you can do to make your hybrid app look and feel like it’s coded in native:
- Use a splash screen, so that the app loads to a fully loaded app.
- Add a back button to the UI, to make sure users can navigate intuitively. Android already includes a back button in the system interface or in the device, but iOS needs your app to allow users to navigate back as they move around.
- If you’re building an app from scratch, use a UI library like Onsen UI. It will not only speed up development time, it will make design decisions much easier. UX and design is based on conventions or what the user is used to. A library like Onsen UI has already made all the mobile components according to conventions.
- Get rid of the 300ms delay. All browsers, including webviews would normally add a 300ms delay when users tap on an element. Why? It’s because it’s waiting for a second tap. 300ms may not seem long, but it’s enough to make an interface feel sluggish.
- Where possible, follow the style guides. If you’re designing your app from scratch, have your developer and designer read the style guidelines created by Apple and Google.
- Make wait times seem shorter. If you can’t avoid having a screen delay, show a loading icon or progress bar. Any delays longer than 0.1s are significant enough to warrant a loader, in order to warn a user the app is alive and loading.
Canvas already does most all of this for you, so if you’re looking for a quicker way, why not give it a try?
How To Choose?
We’ve given you a list of the advantages and disadvantages of web, native and hybrid mobile apps.
But how do you decide which one is best for you? Let’s cover a few of the most important factors.
User Experience (UX) is the overall experience a user has when using your product, especially in terms of how easy or pleasing it is.
A user interface is like a joke. If you have to explain it, it’s not that good. And if your app has bad UX, people will stop using it.
Needless to say, you need to invest in UX.
The best possible thing you can do for UX is to write two separate native apps for iOS and Android. Like we mentioned earlier, there are differences between the two operating systems and people have gotten used to them. If you hand an Android phone to a loyal iPhone user, chances are they’ll stumble a bit, and vice versa.
Whether that is a bug enough downside to justify spending 10x the cost is for you to decide. Hybrid apps don’t have to provide a poor UX, they are used by millions of happy consumers every day after all!
To see a list of the major differences between iOS and Android, click here.
Time to market and cost
How much does building an app cost? There’s obviously a large range here. Prices will vary based on complexity, features, and platforms.
A quick way to get an estimate is to use this tool created by the fine people at Crew. It asks a number of questions and gives you an estimate of how much your app will cost.
But essentially, your mobile app development cost can be determined by just 2 factors: hours required to build and hourly cost. The hourly cost will stay mostly the same and is easy to determine, but the number of hours the app requires depends on what you need the app to do. Some of the major features you might need are covered in the tool created by Crew.
As a rough estimate, native apps will cost $100K for a first version, and take around six months for a functional but not excessively complex app. You can also take 20% of the initial build cost for routine maintenance and updates annually, and of course it will cost significantly more to perform major updates and rework the app’s functionality in future iterations. Web apps and hybrid apps are significantly faster and cheaper to develop – but are not as “good” depending on what you need from your app.
Why do native apps cost so much to develop? Let’s break it down a little more.
The cost of hiring native app developers
If you’re building two (or more) native apps, you’re going to be paying an iOS and Android developer.
You might think that because Android is the more popular operating system it would be cheaper to develop a native app for.
That’s actually not the case, at least according to this article by Infinum. They found that Android native mobile app development requires 40% more code than iOS apps, and took 30% more time to develop.
According to the infographic, mobile developers in North America cost an average of about $150 per hour. This price decreases drastically if you hire developers in India or Eastern Europe where average costs are about $30-50 an hour.
Time required to build a native app
According to the same infographic, it takes an average of 18 weeks to build a standard native mobile app; 10 weeks for the back-end and 8 for the front end.
Keep in mind though that not all apps have a backend and some may use a back-end as a service to reduce development time and complexity.
Your actual timeframe will vary widely from this average, but this is still a good reference if you’re new to the world of app development.
For more information on the breakdown of these and other steps, check out this link.
|App Type||Time in hours||iOS Cost ($150 per hour)||Android Cost ($168 per hour)|
|Simple Apps||300||$45 000||$50 400|
|Moderate Apps||500||$75 000||$84 000|
|Multifaceted Apps||750||$112 500||$126 000|
|Highly Multifaceted Apps||900+||$135 000||$151 200|
*This table is based on North American developers
*App type is somewhat arbitrary
How should time to market affect your decision?
If your app seems like it would be a good fit for hybrid, this can considerably reduce your time to market. However, by doing this, you may be sacrificing something that will be hard to gain in the future.
There’s an important term “technical debt” that applies here. Assuming your app does really well, you will eventually have to face some of the technology decisions you made earlier. In general, technical debt is costlier in the future than it is now.
On the other hand, your job isn’t to write great code, it’s to ship products that people receive value from, so technical debt is okay!
As Joel Spolsky says in his blog post The Duct Tape Programmer:
”A 50%-good solution solves more problems and survives longer than a 99% solution that nobody has because it’s in your lab where you’re endlessly polishing the damn thing.”
And he would know. Joel Spolsky is the CEO and co-founder of Stack Overflow and also founded Trello, FogBugz, and Gomix.
The cost of hiring Hybrid App developers
The average hourly rate for web developers is about $50 in the US, but hybrid app developers might be able to charge a bit more due to their mobile expertise.
The cost of building a hybrid app that can run on both Android and iOS is generally lower than building one native app. However, there are a few caveats:
- Because these aren’t native apps, you will have to invest a considerable amount of money into making it feel native. There are ways to do this, but it’s not as easy as if it was native. This could bring the cost up to the equivalent of 2 native apps
- Apple has a fairly strict app submission process where real people use your app to check that it fits their guidelines. If hybrid apps don’t feel like iOS apps, they might be rejected which could delay the launch (costing more money to fix the app).
Bear these in mind when you’re hiring hybrid app developers.
If you go with Canvas on the other hand, everything to give the native ‘feel’ is already built into the platform, and we handle app submission for you – approval guaranteed.
Using device features
Depending on the complexity of your app, you may want to tap into the various features the device itself has, like the accelerometer or camera.
Once again, the best way to get access to these things is by building fully native apps from the ground up. But, if you build your app in PhoneGap, you can use PhoneGap plugins to access those features. You can search for anything you need here.
Using plugins means relying on someone else’s code or possibly writing your own plugin if you can’t find something that fits your needs.
Think about whether your app really needs to access device features – if your business is already built around a web app having that run as a hybrid mobile app might be enough!
If there’s one word that sums up what your user cares about, it’s performance. If they don’t like the performance of your app, they will simply find another one to use
.In general, native apps have the best overall performance compared to Web and Hybrid apps.
In the early days of the Facebook mobile app, the company took a bet on HTML5 apps. Later, Mark Zuckerberg said that was one of the biggest mistakes the company ever made, as the technology was way too young at the time to provide the experience users expected.
Since hybrid apps are basically dedicated browsers, they’re good at showing apps that mimic the experience you would get in a browser on a computer, namely pages.
If your app is just a series of pages and doesn’t have impressive graphics, a hybrid app may be just fine for you. However, building a game or an app with lots of animation would not be a good fit for a hybrid app.
Apps are supposed to “feel” right. If you swipe an element in a certain direction, you expect it to react immediately and according to your wishes.
This is easy in native apps. Not so much in hybrid apps, though developers could try an external library like Hammer.js to get native-like gestures.
Data processing needs
Many of the most popular apps today are very CPU (processor) heavy.
Think about Snapchat which applies filters to video. Things of this nature would simply not be possible in hybrid apps.
Bear all the above factors in mind when planning your app development project. Now let’s move on to finding great developers to being your idea to reality.
You have a few options for finding the right developer. The classic options are hiring someone full-time to work with you, hiring a freelancer, or hiring an agency. In an extreme case, you might find yourself learning to code in order to build an app, although this is not recommended unless you’re really in it for the long haul.
The process for finding developers for native and hybrid apps is more or less the same except for one major difference. If you decide to build two native apps, you will likely need 2 developers as most specialize in only one platform.
Finding a quality developer to hire as a freelancer or employee, is really, really hard. Expect to spend some real time and resources finding the right one.
It could also be possible to hire a single developer who can build your app for two or even more platforms – such a rare gem could really cut down the complexity compared with building a small team of native developers for different platforms.
The costs will really add up pretty quickly if you’re building natively and hiring different people for it.
So, how do you find experienced app developers?
Finding decent iOS developers can actually be really difficult because they’re in high demand. Android developers can be a bit easier to find.
Here are a few things you can do to try and find a developer:
Search freelance websites
Freelance sites like Upwork have a very wide range of developers in terms of quality.
You’ll have to vet their skills for yourself – expect to pay $35-$100/hour for a good mobile developer. Sites like Crew or Toptal have pre-vetted developers available for hire, though generally more expensive ($50-$200 per hour).
Attend developer friendly meetups
To find developers, you have to hang out where they hang out. Often, that’s in-person at meetups. They go to hear about the latest technologies and how to use them.
The most popular site for tech meetups is meetup.com. The added benefit of meeting developers at these meetups is that you know they’re keeping up with the latest development methods and technologies.
Approach app agencies
There are thousands of digital agencies worldwide that build websites and mobile apps for other companies.
The advantage with hiring an app agency is that you will get a lot more than if you just hire a freelance developer. An app agency will have in-house designers and marketers who can help develop your app.
Say you want to build an app for your news site? How would you go about it?
We made a list earlier of some of the considerations that go into the hybrid vs. native decision so let’s go through each one as it applies to a news app.
News apps don’t seem very complex. For the most part, they deliver information in text or video form. Your news app will probably be very similar to other news apps from major publishers, like the BBC, Huffington Post, Reuters, The New York Times.
For example, a news app would simply consist of sections, articles, pages and comments. Once you add push notifications, options for users to select what alerts they want to receive, comments and sharing, you’ve pretty much done it.
It may be, but once you consider you’ll need to integrate it with your CMS of choice (where the content comes from), and the whole interface will need to be built from scratch, you’re still looking at several months of work for each platform if you’re building native. And how about triggering notifications for new content?
Well, now you need a backend too.
The best experience you can give a user for a text-based app is an uncluttered page with text that is easy to read. Navigation is important, but most users will spend their time reading articles- not flipping between different sections.
Poor app performance is one of the biggest reasons to users leaving or uninstalling an app.
But in the case of a news app, that’s unlikely to be the case unless it’s really bad.
It shouldn’t be hard to create a news app that performs just as well in hybrid form as it does in native. Your app needs to display pages of text, be well structured, well organised (like your website) and run fast.
Time to Market
For a news app, the fastest time to market is a week, and that’s for a native app!
How is this possible?
As we’ve established, native apps can be expensive, especially if you’re looking to build a custom app from scratch, not to mention time-consuming (when you have to build for multiple platforms).
What if you could get an affordable native app?
With MobiLoud News, we are focused on making native apps easy and inexpensive for a specific kind of user; WordPress news publishers.
Publishers and bloggers get plenty of customisation options — including colour scheme, style and branding. Plus all of the advantages of native apps, on both iOS and Android.
We’ve built News apps for great publishers big and small like Foreign Policy, Simple Flying, Deeper Blue and many more! If you’re on WordPress and your business is content – we can get you a fully native News app ready to launch in a few weeks.
If you’re using WordPress, MobiLoud is a simple, effective and professional way to launch your own mobile apps.
You need a spectacular News app, and can get there by building it native from scratch, but it will cost you. You can build it hybrid and save time and money, but you won’t get the native experience. The timeframe for both of these solutions is months.
Or, you can get top-quality native apps in a week using MobiLoud News.
It gives you a fully native app, with all the UX and design details you’d expect from a professional news app, without the cost and time required to build.
By focusing on the WordPress publishers niche we can provide a great product that offers a professional result at a fraction of the cost. And your app is live in a few weeks, not months. Get in touch with one of our app experts if you think your business is a good fit for News.
Although social networks seem complex due to their size, the complexity of the app for each individual user isn’t off the charts.
This shouldn’t require a native app. Hybrid apps can handle this with relative ease.
The user’s experience in a social network app is quite important.
Social networks work because they form a “network effect”, which means the app gets more valuable the more people are on it. Would having Facebook be fun if you were the only one using it? No, so in a social network app, you need to encourage people to invite their friends.
This is no easy task. It can be scary to invite people to a new app. What if they don’t like it?
A great UX and UI can often be the thing that makes it easier to sending out invitations. You can absolutely achieve great UX in a hybrid app, but because the goal of a social network is to keep growing, you may find yourself needing to build a native app in the future. Maybe it’s worth building it from the start, only you can make that decision. In our view, a hybrid app can be a great way to test a concept and launch an MVP!
While social networks used to be mostly profiles and photos, today they’re using more live video, recorded video, and messaging. For complex features like live video, native is best, but hybrid can cope with everything else.
Time to Market
Building a new social network app from scratch is a lot of work and you’ll only find out if it’s successful months after launching it.
As an owner/CEO, your job is to minimize the time and cost for you to test whether your idea can be successful – going hybrid in favour of a quicker time to market may be useful.
Social networks need to wow users in order to get them to invite all their friends.
If the app isn’t impressive or better than apps they’ve used before, there’s simply a lower chance that they will share the app.
Keep that in mind when choosing your app technology. You can build your idea from scratch as a native app – but is that the most efficient and way?
A good way to test the concept and minimize the risk, in our opinion, is to build for the web first using WordPress and a theme like BuddyBoss, then turn it into an iOS and Android app with Canvas! You can get to market far faster and more affordably than any other route, and you’ll end up with a nice result that can really show the viability of the overall concept.
There are many different directions in which you can take your app, all of which have their pros and cons. There will always be some kind of limitation in time or money that will push you to make a certain decision.
What’s important is to spend enough time thinking and calculating before you start building.
Apps are expensive enough that you may only have one go at getting it right. Read as much as you can about the different kinds of apps and the development stages.
If you can, get in touch with people that have gone through the process of building each of these kinds of apps. They will be able to give you the best opinions.
What is clear, though, is that commercial success of smartphones and tablets isn’t showing any signs of slowing down, so in the next few years, you can expect billions of people around the world to be getting their first smartphone.
The opportunity to get your app into the app store and into the hands of millions (or even billions) of people is still growing. Take it!
Now you have a better idea of how to build your app, let us take you through the app-building process – from market research to launch.
If you’re looking for an easier and more direct route to the App Stores and you already have your own site, consider MobiLoud.
All can be converted into great iOS and Android apps on our platform within weeks – and for an affordable investment. Our team also partner with your business to help really make the apps a success – we’re with you every step of the way!
Think MobiLoud could be right for you? Book a call today with one of our app experts and lets start making your vision a reality!