What are the pros and cons of using PhoneGap vs native applications?

Category: App costsMobile app ideas
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Phone Gap vs native apps

What are the pros and cons of using PhoneGap vs native apps?

Native app development means using the native programming languages of the devices.  For Android, the native programming language is Java, for iPhone it is Objective C and Swift.

Hybrid apps are developed by using: HTML5, CSS and JavaScript, then put inside a native container such as Adobe PhoneGap also known as Apache Cordova. They run the web application code and package it into an app.

Both technologies: native  and Hybrid can creates apps that are downloadable at Google Play or apple iTunes app Store.

Off course there are pros and cons of using either technology.  Below you can find a list of advantages and disadvantages of using those app development technologies:

Pros:

  • One of the main features of developing mobile application using PhoneGap is the Portability, what means that An application developed for Android can be easily ported to other mobile platforms like Windows mobile by transferring the code. So Cross-platform code can work for all mobile platforms like Android, iOS or Windows;
  • Development skills required only in popular web technologies like: JavaScript, HTML5, CSS3;
  • Existing web developers can be a part of PhoneGap and target the increased user base;
  • Using PhoneGap can help you distribute and integrate payment through the App store;
  • Developer can use plain old Javascript or even other libraries like jQuery, Prototype, Sencha Touch or MooTools to handle the interaction.

Cons:

  • Being free is no guarantee of success, the emergence of PhoneGap are clear presentations that Apache Cordova is woefully incomplete. The strength of being open source – and leveraging the talents of a wide array of contributors – is both a blessing and curse. If you want to find a custom PhoneGap plugin there is quite big chance that you will find one. But there is big possibility that it may be out of date or not supported on the target platforms you need;
  • The performance of Cordova/PhoneGap apps has often been criticized. It could be a big issue when your mobile app includes many graphic elements. To get your app working smoothly you need to implement caching or use 3rd party solutions for graphic acceleration. Native UI will always outperform a hybrid solution, but improvements in device hardware and WebView implementations have narrowed the gap;
  • Unclear information and directions for User-Interface (UI) and other best practices to make the app better;
  • Documentation of PhoneGap is not very descriptive and at times also lack important information that is required. What’s more it’s hard to find clear information and directions for user-interface and other best practices to make the app better;
  • There is a lot of small issues that developer have to consider, e.g. : You have to think about the buttons you are going to use. Android devices have an own ‘back’ button. As for iOS you need to develop this in your application. It means that your app doesn’t use native widgets, so it don’t look as native app.
  • Device fragmentation: Device fragmentation within web browsers is a real thing. Different devices might render the same app differently. This means that your developers will need extensive testing and fine-tuning to get the UI right, especially when working on more complex apps.

To sum up: PhoneGap is best suited for building simple mobile apps that do not use the native features of phone extensively. If you are building more complex apps and extensive usage of phone features is needed, then native app development is recommended. Whether you choose to go native or pick PhoneGap will depend also on your requirements, core expertise, budget, and availability of resources (i.e. developer talent).

1 comment

  • I’m yet to see a serious mobile app built on PhoneGap to get traction. It’s OK to build a proof o concept to “get it out there” but once you become popular, people want a flawless experience, which PhoneGap won’t give you…

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