Native Apps Vs. Web Apps Vs. Hybrid Apps



We are often asked what is the difference between the hybrid, native and web apps and which technology would make it better to develop an app. Since you cannot give a general answer, we tried to make your decision easier in this article based on a few criteria.


Difference Between Native App, Web App & Hybrid App

What Is a Native App?

These apps are developed with the help of tools and languages ​​that are supported by appropriate platforms (XCode and Objective C for iOS apps, Eclipse, Android Studio and Java for Android, Visual Studio and C # for Windows). Native apps only run on the target platforms.


What Is a Web App (HTML5 App):

These apps also called HTML5 apps, are cross-platform applications that mostly run in the browser. Since every modern smartphone has an internet browser, web apps can be used on all platforms. The usual web technologies such as HTML5, CSS, JavaScript are in the background. Due to the widespread use of HTML5, the boundary between web apps and “normal” websites has become rather fluid.


What Is a Hybrid App:

As the name suggests, such apps are a combination of the two ‘pure’ forms and an attempt to combine the best of two worlds. Hybrid apps are based on web technologies such as HTML5, CSS, JavaScript, but run in a webview container, are packaged as native apps and can therefore access native APIs and functions from the operating system. In contrast to web apps, the user can hardly see any differences to the native apps. Hybrid apps are also distributed through the App Store. On this website you will find an excellent overview of hybrid (and not just hybrid) frameworks!


Decision Criteria: Native Apps Vs. Web Apps Vs. Hybrid Apps

Before starting an app project, it is important to decide which technology should be used for the development. The wrong question is ‘Which technology is better?’, The right question would be, what kind of project is it, what are the goals and what budget is available.



In terms of performance, the native apps are clearly better than the other two alternatives. Such apps also use less of the hardware resources of the devices. The speed of the app is one of the most important criteria of usability and should not be neglected. But the sensitivity when touching, support of various gestures, whether standard gestures or app-specific gestures, are much better with native apps.


Offline Usability:

The native and hybrid apps can be used offline without any problems. This can become a problem with web apps. Browser caching supports offline mode for web apps, but the capacity for offline use is still very limited for web apps.


Access to Native Functions:

This point is one of the strongest arguments for native apps. Although the web apps can access some functions of the operating system / device, the scope is hardly comparable to native apps. Native apps can fully access the functions of the operating system, such as GPS, camera, contact details, gestures, notifications, etc. The hybrid apps can also access most functions.



The native and hybrid apps are downloaded and installed from app stores. After installation, the apps can be called up via an icon on the desktop. The web apps (HTML5 apps) are called up just like normal websites, via a link or by typing in a URL. Afterwards, these apps can be saved as a bookmark on the screen of the device and later opened via an icon / bookmark like a normal app. Apparently, the installation is rather disadvantageous for native and hybrid apps, since it takes time to find and install an app, but it is very easy to bookmark. However, this function is used relatively rarely.



The web apps are easier for end customers to find and use. If you are looking for information or want to do a specific task, it is much more likely that you first look for information on the Internet. Assuming the user is on the go and wants to quickly convert a currency, what is more likely that they go to the app store, download an app, open and convert it, or check Google and go to the next best website to convert the currency? Probably the second option.


Development Costs & Time:

With this criterion, it is crucial whether the app has to be developed for a single platform (typical case e.g. iOS app for iPad for use within a company) or whether as many platforms as possible have to be covered. In the first case, it doesn’t matter which technology you use to develop the app, the effort and time period are roughly the same. The more platforms you need to reach, the greater the difference in price and time frame. That is, the savings with three platforms are greater than with iOS / Android only. If you take the normal case, i.e. an app that runs on iOS and Android, you can save between 15-20% in costs for hybrid or web apps compared to native apps. Why not 50%? Quite simply: the actual app development is only a sub-process. The overall project also includes many other parts, such as the design, backend, testing, project management, etc. Here, you hardly save anything.


Also not to be neglected are the fixed and variable costs for app store accounts and in particular the transaction fees of 30% (i.e. the money that Apple, Google Play and Co. carry away from your sales)! Of course, these costs do not apply to the HTML5 apps. The same applies to the content of the app: Apple is very picky when it comes to content, Google not to the extent, but still has a content policy. The web, on the other hand, is (almost) free and you can publish (almost) everything in the web app.


Summary Pros & Cons

Native apps are clearly better in terms of performance and usability. Documentation, support and available tools also make native apps a better choice. So if you want to create an app that really “rocks”, you do it natively!


On the other hand, if you want to create an app for multiple platforms quickly and relatively cheaply, especially if the use of the native functions of the operating system is not too extensive, hybrid apps are better off. One should also not forget that the possibilities and capacities of such apps and the tools available for their development are improving very quickly.


Web apps (HTML5 apps) are recommended for those who value a lot of traffic from the web, who highly appreciate the platform independence and who are hardly interested in access to native functions or offline operation. But we have to emphasize again, this alternative is only recommended as an exception.


End Remarks

On the basis of the criteria described, we have summed up that in general, the wider the target group and the lower the performance requirements, the more sensible it is to develop a hybrid or web app (HTML5 app). Otherwise, a native app would be a better alternative.