Native vs Hybrid vs Cross-Platform

When choosing to develop between a hybrid, cross platform or native app mobile application there can often times be a lot of confusion. The confusion comes in the different approaches used to get the app developed. The choices for any mobile app development company depends on different factors, such as app features, budget, goals, and target customers. Below we will outline the major approaches—native, cross-platform, and hybrid—to these development apps.

Native Applications

This type of application development simply means developing an app specific to each platform. There are platform specific tools to aid in this process, and these tools enable the functionality of the app. These platform specific tools can be anything from XCode to Objective-C to Swift or C++. For android-based apps, Java or Kotlin are typically used.

Pros and Cons to Native Apps


  • Stores app resources in the mobile device’s memory, which maximizes OS features.
  • The best tool to use for quality user experience and functionality.
  • iPhone has many resources, reading materials and tools for developing native apps.
  • Native apps have exclusive API’s that can access push notifications, in app purchases, and camera functionality that are usually prohibited in mobile web apps.


  • Native apps can get expensive especially if you want the app to be available cross platform.
  • There are also slight variations with the UI on all the different platforms.
  • It is very time consuming to create native applications for both Android and iOS, which can become very costly.
  • Native applications usually have a requirement that only allows the app to define tablets and phones separately. This is non-transferrable between these two platforms.

Cross-Platform Applications

This type of app development uses JavaScript. JavaScript enables the application function and also enables CSS and HTML in order to generate design components. Frameworks like Adobe Air and Corona can call native code in order to take advantage of an operating system and any device’s specific functionality like navigation. Cross-platform mobile development is a good choice for users or companies looking for multi-platform functionality.

Pros and Cons to Cross-Platform Apps


  • Using cross-platform apps offers seamless functionality within the OS.
  • It is easy to use code repeatability, hence offering cost-effective solutions to app development.


  • These apps often have a non-native feel to them, offering a less appealing user experience.
  • There is also limited functionality to tap into.

Hybrid Application Development for Mobile Devices

The hybrid approach combines all the features of the app developments listed above. Native code is integrated with cross-platform using typical web technologies. These technologies include HTML, CSS and JavaScript. After the app is written, it is then bundled as a native application with an integrated web view. With the new frameworks such as React Native, the hybrid mobile app development approach can be delivered with much less effort while still achieving the same precision as the aforementioned development tools.

Pros and Cons of Hybrid Mobile Apps


  • With very little modification the same code can be used over different platforms.
  • This in the long term will save money and time.
  • The functionality of hybrid apps is very similar to native apps, making them very user friendly.
  • The content is portable.
  • Developers have an option to deliver the app locally or through a server, meaning the app can be accessed both offline and online.


  • Hybrid is a relatively new platform and may not work on all devices.
  • There is not much support for these apps since they are so new, meaning problems can occur, and there is no troubleshooting available.
  • If the app store you are using recognizes the app as a hybrid, it may be denied through the app store.
  • Some vendors are now offering build platforms for these frameworks, meaning that you may have to pay for it.

The Verdict

There is no absolute choice for any of these options. It depends mostly on what is best for you or the company or venture being pursued. The best choice usually depends upon which requirements suit you best. If the application you are looking for is very complex in functionality, then native apps are the way to go. If an application that crosses multiple platforms is important, then choosing a cross-platform app is the better choice. If the budget is small and you are looking to optimize mobile experiences, then hybrid may be the way to go.

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