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How to Choose Between a Native, Web, or Hybrid App?

By July 13, 2018December 11th, 2023Mobile Apps
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Whatever it is, there’s an app for it.

Businesses are headed to the mobile app realm, and if it makes sense for your business, you should too. Apps aren’t just for big-name brands, many small businesses and entrepreneurs are investing time and money to develop a dedicated mobile app. As the mobile trend continues to skyrocket, it’s time that you consider if a mobile app makes sense for your business.

Let’s start off by doing a quick overview of mobile app development:

  • App Development can be for either web or mobile. Web app development includes a viewport area for multiple device types, such as desktop to mobile, but the application would run in a browser container. Mobile App development is typically for mobile devices such as smartphones, phablets, and tablets.
  • The most common operating systems for apps are iOS and Android.
  • There are three different types of apps: native, web, and hybrid.

Building an app is an investment. It takes both time and money, so it’s important to understand and consider all of your options so that you make the correct decision once.  

difference between native web or hybrid app


Each app type offers your users an entirely different experience, so we’ve compiled the features, as well as advantages and disadvantages, of each to help you decide which makes the most sense for you:  

Native App

Your favorite apps, such as Facebook, Spotify, Twitter, and Waze, are all native apps! Check out the native apps we built for Paxxie (iOS), Stomp Sessions (iOS), QAI (iOS), and Stomp Sessions (Android).

What exactly is a native app?

A native app is designed and then written in a programming language that runs on a specific operating system. For example, an app that gets written in Objective-C or Swift will be for native iOS apps, an app written in Java is used for native Android apps and an app written in C# will be for Windows native apps.

What are the advantages of a native app?

Since native apps are specifically developed for an operating system, they can tap into the user’s device, giving them a fast, responsive, and optimized experience. Native apps typically offer the best user experience by taking advantage of the device’s features, offering push notifications, a user interface that matches the experience of the operating system, ability to access camera, microphone and GPS, and gestures similar to those used throughout the phone interface.    

What are the disadvantages of a native app?

Since native apps are developed for a specific operating system, they cannot be used on devices that are not supported by that operating system. If you want your native app to be available across all operating systems, you may have to develop the app three times (depending on which platforms you want your app available on – iOS, Android, and Windows). This can double, even triple, the initial development process and future updates, ultimately being more expensive. If your budget doesn’t allow us to develop three, we recommend choosing one operating system and see how it performs before moving forward with developing across all of them.

Web App

Do you use Google’s office suite, Trello,  Pxlr, or MailChimp? These are all examples of web apps! See what web apps we created for Studio Sweat on Demand, Blockit, My Virtual Fleet, and VillageUnity.

What exactly is a web app?

A web app can be accessed from any operating system on a web browser without being downloaded from an app store. Web apps are written in JavaScript, CSS, and HTML and are similar to a website but more interactive.

What are the advantages of a web app?

Web apps are typically the cheapest and easiest option to produce, making it an attractive option for entrepreneurs. This is often a popular route before deciding to invest in developing a mobile app. You’ll be able to learn about who is using your web app, how it can be better, and what operating system your users prefer.

What are the disadvantages of a web app?

Web apps lack features, such as push notification, the ability to work offline, and access to the devices’ native features. If you’re looking to monetize through downloads of your app, that is not possible on a web app that does not get downloaded from app stores.

Hybrid App

Sworkit and Untappd are examples of a hybrid app.

What exactly is a hybrid app?

A hybrid app is a web app inside a native app. Hybrid apps are built like web apps, using Javascript, HTML, and CSS, with one major difference, they are available on app stores. If you are looking for the fastest, most affordable option that will allow you to test if people are downloading and using your app on their device, we recommend a hybrid app.   

What are the advantages of a hybrid app?

You only have to write the web code, JavaScript, CSS, or HTML, once and then translate it to iOS, Android OS, or Windows. Hybrid apps are great for basic functioning apps and are typically developed faster than native apps with less cost. You will still be able to deliver a “native experience” by being able to access your user’s device features such as the camera, microphone, and GPS.

What are the disadvantages of a hybrid app?

Because hybrid apps are developed like a web app, performance and user experience can suffer. As well, since they are not built to run on a specific operating system, users may experience slower loading times and updates may be more frequent and costly. When choosing hybrid apps, the user experience is often sacrificed because you cannot customize based on the operating system. You will have to consider how simple or complex your app is.


There is a huge price difference from the native app to the web app. The price of your app will further vary depending on a few factors: platforms, features, and complexity. Contact us for an estimate!


What are the key features you need for your app to work?

  • Will your app need to support gestures (tap, double-tap, swipe, etc.)?
  • Will your app need to access the device’s features (camera, microphone, navigation, etc.)?
  • Will your app need the ability to use push notifications?
  • Do you want your app to be available on app stores?


Understanding who your audience is will help you identify what app is best for you. Think about what their interests, preferences, and objections are. The big questions:

  • Are they frequent app users? If so, what apps do they use?
    • 1. What features do these apps have?
    • 2. What is the experience of these apps?
    • 3. Will they expect frequent updates?

This will help you determine what your audience expects in their app experience. If they are used to using and navigating an app with great user experience, and your app has a bad user experience, they will stop using it.


It takes time to develop an app, so it’s important to consider your timeline when making a decision. Web apps are the quickest to develop, the deployment will be immediate because you won’t need to go through an app store approval process and future updates will be visible right away. The development process for native apps is typically the longest because of its complexity. If you choose to do both iOS and Android apps, the development will be very time consuming and maintaining both platforms will be demanding. The development time of a hybrid app falls somewhere in the middle of web apps and native apps.

Tags: android developer san diego, ios developer san diego, san diego mobile app developers, app development san diego,

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Raj Sanghvi

Raj Sanghvi is a technologist and founder of BitCot, a full-service award-winning software development company. With over 15 years of innovative coding experience creating complex technology solutions for businesses like IBM, Sony, Nissan, Micron, Dicks Sporting Goods, HDSupply, Bombardier and more, Sanghvi helps build for both major brands and entrepreneurs to launch their own technologies platforms. Visit Raj Sanghvi on LinkedIn and follow him on Twitter. View Full Bio