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Native or Hybrid?

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Maybe you’re asking the wrong question.

In my role at Onymos, I’m often meeting with mobile app development teams working at everything from small businesses to large enterprises. Universally, the teams ask the question: Should we be building our mobile app using native or hybrid technologies?

While this was a relevant question 5 years back, this question in 2018 is akin to asking, should the next home I rent/buy have spruce or pine lumber framing. There are countless other more important questions to ask. If you are building a mobile app, I think these are much more important questions:

  1. Where is the user data going to be stored and how is to be secured?
  2. What mechanisms are you going to allow your users to authenticate with?
  3. How are you going to handle Push Notifications?
  4. … and the list goes on.

Primer on Native technology:

Apple iOS and Google Android both offer their own set of tools to build native apps on their platform. To build a mobile app to run on Apple’s iOS devices, one uses the iOS SDK, Xcode and then programs in either Swift or Objective-C language. To build a mobile app to run on Android devices, one uses the Android SDK, Android Studio and then programs in Java utilizing the Java Development Kit.

These tool sets require separating your developers into two teams, maintaining two separate code bases (iOS and Android), and keeping up-to-date on the latest Android and iOS releases. Although there are many difficulties to constructing native apps, the benefits are the ability to be lock-step with the OS releases and in some intense use-cases like Gaming or Virtual Reality have a performance advantage over other technologies.

Primer on Hybrid technology:

Both Apple iOS and Google Android are bundled with a WebView to render Web content. Hybrid technologies take advantage of that and create mobile apps that use the WebView to render the UI while a set of plugins provide the interface to the device hardware like Camera, Accelerometer, GPS, etc., To build a Hybrid app, one uses Web technologies like HTML, CSS and JavaScript and a hybrid framework like Cordova or React-Native to interface with the device hardware.

While hybrid performance in some use-cases like Gaming or Virtual Reality might lag Native apps, and the availability of interfaces to new OS features might occur few weeks later, the benefits are a single code base for both iOS & Android and same & consistent user experience across the platforms.

So… which is better?

These days, it doesn’t much matter which you choose. Hybrid technologies having caught up with Native in terms of Performance and both Apple iOS and Google Android explicitly supporting hybrid technologies on their platforms by offering performance features to WebView. Therefore, for the vast majority of apps, there really is no difference. Unless a team is building a game app or is anticipating being on-stage during a new iOS or Android release launch with a cutting-edge feature the choice of either approach should not be the determining factor.

Let’s reframe the debate

Performance, UX consistency, and time to market will always remain critical factors. But what I hear from many developers are concerns about flexibility and the long-term viability of their app. Here are the questions that I think really matter:

  • Should my team focus solely on the business features of my app and leverage open standard solutions for the non-business but basic features of our app?
  • Should we retain complete control & ownership of where our app’s user data is stored and processed?
  • Can we stay nimble and avoid lock-in with any particular vendor’s proprietary technology?
  • Will my team be able to get to market faster with the initial release of our app and subsequent releases?
  • Will we need to keep pace with the latest iOS & Android releases, new devices that come into the market, and other peripheral services and technologies that our app uses?

Your answer

If you answered ‘Yes’ to all of the questions above, Onymos Fabric is the right answer. ????

Onymos Fabric is the first of its kind offering which provides mobile app development teams a comprehensive open standard platform that has in it all the basic features required of an app like Login with OAuth, or Email/Password, or Social Login, Chat, Notifications, Photo/Video handling, Geo, Augmented Reality, and much more.

Onymos provides you complete control of where your user data is stored and processed, and your team retains ownership of the data even if you choose to host your app’s data with Onymos Hosting.

There is no lock-in and you can move away from using Onymos at any time. We hope you will not, given the benefits we bring, but we intentionally set the customer stickiness bar at Zero, despite business advice to the contrary, as that’s the right thing to do.

Onymos regularly updates the core Features of your app to the latest iOS & Android releases, new devices that come into the market, and other peripheral services and technologies that your app uses, letting your team focus just on business aspects. This leads to faster Go-to-Market, higher adoption and higher ratings for your app.

Learn more about Onymos here.

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