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We enjoy smartphones because they have many applications that make everyday activities easier like reading, watching movies and getting information

When you think of developing for the mobile application market, one important decision is to decide between developing a native application or a hybrid one. The question is which is best?

What Native has over Hybrid

Building native applications means using the native language of the platform, Objective-C on iOS, and Java on Android. The main advantage of native applications is their performance. Native apps are compiled into machine code (Dalvik byte code under Android), which gives the best performance you can get from the mobile phone.

Best performance include:

  • Fast and fluid animations
  • Full access to phone hardware, multi touch support and the latest APIs.

Native development is far from easy. Despite the great number of resources that can be found, it may not be understandable to everyone. As code must be written specifically for each platform, the same code will have to largely be rewritten with little able to be shared. The logic may be the same, but the APIs, the language and development process is different. This process can be relatively long for complex applications.

If you are new to mobile development and want to build performance-critical mobile apps or take advantage of native APIs, you would need a good resource on learning mobile native development.

Like iOS for example. If you want to be a native iOS developer, first get yourself a Mac. You can write code anywhere, but a Mac is needed to build the code into an application as is an iOS Developer Account which costs $99 per year (roughly

You can get a great intro to Objective-C by creating your own Flappy Bird game in your browser. A single online tutorial won’t quite do the trick though, Apple provides its own tutorial which is helpful for beginners and experienced developers. The tutorial introduces application design, structure and code implementation while building a ToDoList app.

What Hybrid has over Native

Hybrid applications are web applications or web pages in the native browser, such as UIWebView in iOS and WebView in Android. Hybrid apps are developed using HTML, CSS and Javascript, and then wrapped in a native application using platforms like Cordova. This allows you to use any web-native framework you want, and there are plenty of these.

The application development is rapid, faster, simpler and the application is easier to maintain. You can change platforms anytime you need, Cordova lets you build your application for more than one platform just by one adding line of code. As for the phone hardware such as Bluetooth, Cordova has a large repository of plugins you can use.

The only main problem with hybrid apps is that they still depend on the native browser, meaning they are not as fast as native apps.

If you decide to develop hybrid applications, then you should know that there are two main competitors in this field:

  • Cordova and Cordova-based tools like PhoneGap.
  •  Appcelerator Titanium.

They both target mobile platforms but work in very different ways.

Developing with Cordova is just like developing a webpage. You create CSS, HTML and JavaScript local files, test them in the browser and then wrap them in a native web view with Cordova. You will still need native SDKs and development tools for this.

Using Titanium is a bit different; you do not need any HTML and CSS files, unless you want to create an application that uses both native and HTML-based User Interfaces. Titanium provides a very useful mobile tool set that helps you simulate your application on the real platform, not in the browser. When your app is run on the device, it does not get wrapped into a web view, but gets interpreted by a JavaScript engine, JavaScript Core in iOS or Rhino in Android.

Appcelerator provides a good tutorial, not a To Do application surprisingly.

There are also several others less known hybrid development options such as:

  • Xamarin
  • Rho
  • Corona and
  •  MoSync.

All of these work in different ways and may benefit you more depending on your current programming experience.

Both native and hybrid are ways to fulfill the different needs and preferences of users and developers, and none of them can be thought as a perfect solution. They have their own strengths and weaknesses and it is up to you to decide which of them fits you better and which one you will use in your application.