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Native, Hybrid or HTML5: What's the right approach for enterprise mobile apps?

Published on 25 February 14

Mobile devices are taking the whole world by storm, so it’s no surprise that the enterprise hasn’t been insulated from this trend. Over the past couple of years, there has been considerable debate about introducing mobility in the enterprise, and how it benefits the workforce.

From seamless access to information, even when on the move, to fostering the growth of a mobile workforce, from bringing in considerable flexibility into work to encouraging employees to work from absolutely anywhere - the benefits of enterprise mobility are numerous.

Native, Hybrid or HTML5: What's the right approach for enterprise mobile apps? - Image 1

When choosing to go mobile, as a business, you have to consider the pros and cons for various stakeholders - the convenience of your workforce or end users, your IT function’s ease at managing the mobile apps’ delivery and maintenance, the impact on your customers, and more.

There are many options to choose from when developing an enterprise mobile app, but what’s the right one for your business? Read on to know more about the pros and cons of each app development model:


This one’s for the purists who would like to create apps singularly for each mobile OS. If you’re looking to develop a native app for iOS users, you would have to opt for coding in Objective-C, while Android apps would be developed in Java and Windows mobile apps require .NET

The pros:

1. Choosing the ideal development tool for a native app allows you to provide feature-rich apps with enhanced user experience. If you’re looking to develop an app that’s rich on visual content - be it animation or graphics, then native’s the way to go.

2. Another important benefit of native apps is the element of security. You can provide for tighter security controls in a native app, and this is a huge benefit from the enterprise’s perspective. Your confidential business data is better protected.

3. Native apps allow for better integration with other features of the mobile device, like the camera, contacts’ list, maps and more - so if you’re looking for an app that requires greater interaction with inbuilt features of the device, native apps make your life a lot easier.

4. If you choose to go native, you’ll never have to worry about how your app will perform on the device. Since each app development platform is unique to its mobile OS, they continue to evolve at a pace that matches the changes in the mobile OS, and sometimes, can even be a beat faster. So whatever changes you can expect in future versions of the mobile OS your native enterprise app runs in, you can always be on top of the game.

The cons:

1. The first, and most important, drawback of native apps is that it allows for provisioning your app to a single mobile OS. However, this shouldn’t be too much of an issue if your business has a mobility program in place that allows employees to only use a particular type of mobile device at work.

2. If you allow more than one kind of mobile device, for instance iOS as well as Android, among your employees, you will find native app development quite expensive. You will need to invest to create native apps for each of the platforms you allow in your workforce, and the development and maintenance costs will correspondingly increase.

HTML5 allows developers to create web-based applications in a single language that can run across any device through various web browsers on mobile devices.

The pros:

1. The biggest benefit of HTML5 apps is the cost factor. It’s much cheaper to deploy an HTML5 app, since HTML5 app developers are easier to hire and charge lower rates. It’s ideal to opt for HTML5 apps if your business is looking to create multiple apps to work across various functions and for various tasks.

2. The other benefit is that an HTML5 app can run on absolutely any device - so if you have a liberal BYOD program at your workplace, HTML5 apps can be accessed by your employees irrespective of the mobile device they use.

3. HTML5 apps offer seamless integration between mobile devices and desktops - employees can work on the same application on their computers in the workplace, or on their mobile devices when on the move.

The cons:

1. Since there are a number of web browsers to choose from, developing an HTML5 app to work on all of them can be quite a hurdle. This is because each browser has its own features when it comes to supporting HTML5 features - while some features may work on a particular browser, they may not work the same way in another. The fragmentation issue among the browsers can potentially impede your success with an HTML5 app for the enterprise.

2. If you require your app to work when users are offline, you may want to steer clear of HTML5. As this is a web-based solution, HTML5 apps will require users to be constantly online while using the app.

3. While HTML5 apps can work across a number of browsers and devices, their performance isn’t uniform. Users could face lags and issues on certain devices which don’t offer high integration or the ability to run all features of the app.

Hybrid apps offer the best of both worlds, by combining the strengths of native apps with that of HTML5 apps. Such apps are typically coded in HTML5 but come with a native container overlay and are developed using cross-platform development tools.

The pros:

1. Hybrid apps are coded in languages like HTML5, CSS or JavaScript and the skill set required is easier to find - which means cheaper development costs for your enterprise.

2. Hybrid apps are just as easy to code as HTML5 apps, but they guarantee more uniform performance across various devices and platforms.

3. One of the biggest advantages of hybrid app development is the low cost of maintenance. Changes and updates need to be done to a single code and can be applied across platforms and devices.

The cons:

1. In comparison with native apps, hybrid apps aren’t as feature rich. And to add more features in the latter takes a lot more effort than when developing a feature-rich native app.

2. When opting for a hybrid app, you will have to choose between two important features: user experience or performance. You get one while compromising on the other.

3. Coping with mobile OS updates can be quite daunting with hybrid apps, as cross-platform development tools’ functions can’t always keep up with each OS update.

4. Once you pick a cross-platform development tool for your enterprise app, you can’t switch to another tool. This lock-in can prove to be a far more expensive proposition in the long-run, as the skill-set required for developing and maintaining these apps would be rarer.

When it comes to enterprise mobile apps, there’s no ‘one size fits all’ solution to offer. To make the right choice for your business, you will have to carefully consider your requirements and investments. The right mobile app development platform for your business will depend on numerous factors: usability, features, costs, support, etc.
This blog is listed under Enterprise Applications and Mobility Community

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