Mobile is increasingly being deemed the platform of choice by consumers. Most smartphone owners admit that habitual usage is an integral part of their day and follow a routine of checking their mobile first thing in the morning and it is the last thing they do in the evening.

Our obsession with smartphones is on the rise with millennials and their cohorts spending more than double the amount of time on their mobile each day in comparison to the previous generations. With the population moving to a more agile way of being informed, businesses are progressively adapting mobile in their digital strategies. And since mobile devices are constantly evolving with new hardware and software being released every day, the digital community is left with an abundance of questions on how to approach each mobile project. Concerned are stressed right from the beginning tied to choosing the right technology that has a long shelf life and reaches all target audiences.

If you’re in this complex predicament from either the development or product owner side, keep reading for an overview of the top three paths to entering the mobile app market:

Native Mobile App: building for a native environment is the most powerful and the most expensive option. Developers code for a specific mobile platform, which tends to be either Java for Android or Swift for Apple’s iOS devices, since these two operators make up roughly 98% of the mobile marketplace.

Positives

  • Digital designers are given the reins to hone-in on user experience and craft unique journeys by tailoring user-interactions to the platform’s standards.
  • The code is made up of the core programming languages and hosted on the device itself and therefore may run faster and process data more efficiently.
  • If an app is developed for the app store it is intended for, it often gets approval faster and receives better support from the marketplace, enabling prospective users to find and download it easier.
  • Native applications can operate offline and access an exclusive API in the phones operating system to engage with the phone in more dynamic and intuitive ways.

Negatives

  • Developers will need to build two separate apps unless the product owner chooses to ignore almost half of the smartphone users, which requires additional time and budget.
  • Having two separate apps significantly increases the cost of long-term maintenance, support and software updates.
  • Approval for new features are often delayed on Android compared to iOS and therefore users across different platforms receive an inconsistent experience with the product.

Responsive Web App: On the other side of the spectrum for mobile development is the least powerful and most inexpensive option - the response web app. This is the best course of action for businesses to dip their toe in the mobile sphere or test an idea without a significant time of financial investment.

Positives

  • The fastest way to get a product live in the marketplace. Web apps can be released at any time and do not require approval from app stores to be listed.
  • Web apps are much easier to maintain since they’re built with a common code base across all platforms that are consistent with responsive web design.
  • The developers can be more reactive to feedback and fix bugs quicker.

Negatives

  • Performance is likely to be much slower since all computation is done online rather than within the phone itself.
  • The app’s functionality is limited without the ability to access the camera or geolocation data, etc.
  • It can be difficult to discover web apps since they’re not systematically listed in any app store.
  • Users access the app across different web browsers making it troublesome to track usage and engagement patterns.

Hybrid App: Hybrid apps are written in one programming language which gets converted, through emergent industry tools, to function equally well across iOS and Android devices. The cross-platform app is known to be the middle grown between the native and web approach to mobile development.

Positives

  • Combines the affordability of a web application with the user-experience and processing power of a native app.
  • Has the ability to integrate with enterprise systems, manage data and operate without internet service at times.
  • Unified development is a big advantage towards providing all users with consistent touch points regardless of their access points.
  • A hybrid app is a practical option to get to market quickly and provides a sustainable model with a framework for trouble-free upgrades.

Negatives

  • The tools for cross-platform mobile development are fairly new and there is not much support for developers to troubleshoot unforeseen issues.
  • Developers need to pay extra attention to potential lagging issues since the code is being run through different operating systems.
  • The app functions smoothly on both Android and Apple devices with an uncomplicated user-journey. Since it’s exclusively for one platform, it may be slightly limited in interaction elements.