Struggling between native and phonegap, simple app requirements

I’m going to make a native (meaning; not in the browser) mobile app. Since I’m a web-developer I’m struggling to decide whether or not I should try Phonegap or just build an native app in java or objective-c.

The app requirements are simple. GPS/wifi location, Facebook integration and I guess I’ll need a database to handle some of the application specific Facebook-friend relations. Like the highscores in a game, for example – stuff like that.

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  • I’m a web-developer, and don’t know neither java or objective-c, yet. I’ve never used Phonegap before, so I don’t know if it’s capable of fulfilling my requirements.

    So my question is as follows;
    Can I use Phonegap for my app, or do I need to dive into a new language?

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  • 9 Solutions collect form web for “Struggling between native and phonegap, simple app requirements”

    Related:

    Larger version of this article can also be found HERE, to be transparent it is my personal blog.

    Hybrid vs Native apps

    Hybrid apps:

    Pro:

    • Quicker development, especially if you’re a a longtime web developer.
    • 1 language can be used on every available platform. This, of course, requires a Phonegap wrapper. You don’t need to learn Objective C, Java, or C# to do any development. You need only to understand the basics of the Phonegap implementation. You will need to play with above-mentioned languages a bit but you don’t need to understand them.
    • Phonegap can offer some native capabilities like iOS native tab bar or Android native tab bar and so much more.
    • Lower budget costs and a huge community of supporters and developers.
    • A hybrid app offers many of the advantages of both approaches access to the most common device APIs, and broad device coverage while not requiring the specialized skills, bigger budgets and longer time to market that are more typical of fully native apps.

    Cons:

    • You will piss blood after some time, literally and metaphorically.
    • Mobile phones (even today’s tablets) are not fast enough to smoothly run a hybrid app, mobile JavaScript capabilities are bed at best. Android platform is a nightmare, page transitions don’t work smoothly not to mention lacking CSS/CSS3 implementation. If you think native Android 2.X and 4.X have differences take a look a Android 2.X bad JavaScript / CSS implementation. iOS fares better but still has a lacking CSS3 implementation thou much better page transitions. To make this short native apps will always have a better user experience and general feeling.
    • You will spend much more time fixing the app then building it. Creating an app for each and every platform is a pain in the neck. Browsers on different platforms do not uniformly support all the latest HTML features and APIs, which can make developing and testing a challenge.
    • If you don’t have a good designer, don’t even try to build an app; looks are everything.
    • If you don’t know what are you doing there’s a good chance your app will not get permission for Apple app store. Even Google Play Store will ban your app if they discover a 3rd party Phonegap PayPal plugin.

    Native apps:

    Pro:

    • A native mobile app can produce the best user experience — fast and fluid, can give you the best access to device features, and can be discovered in the app stores.
    • Without a doubt, native apps have full access to the underlying mobile platform. Native apps are usually very fast and polished, making them great for high performance apps or games. This is more then enough.

    Cons:

    • Bigger budget, you will need at least a person/s with Java and Objective C knowledge, even C# if you want a Windows mobile app. Yes you can learn it yourself but don’t live under the illusion you will do so in a short time. If you have never done any development, choose Objective C (iOS is still a better platform). In other cases choose Java. Java has a syntax similar to other available languages, so it is easy to jump from C# to Java and vice-versa. Objective C is a world of it own. It has a rather uncommon syntax.
    • It might take you a longer period of time to develop all of them and time is money. This depends on the complexity of the apps.

    In your case, if you have a good web development/design skills and/or have a good designer you should choose a hybrid app. Go native only if this app is going to be a complex one. Everything you want can be done with a hybrid app. And you will find a great and supporting community.

    Hybrid apps

    What I didn’t previously mentioned you need to be specially careful here. Even if you are seasoned developer you will find a lot of problems you can’t solve. Hybrid development should not be mistaken for a basic web development.

    Every mobile platform has its own set of problems, not to mention that mobile phones behave differently depending on a device. If possible always create a app that works on a slower devices because native app will successfully work on almost any device.

    There’s one last thing, when creating hybrid apps, app development will take you about 30%-50% of your time, rest goes to specific platform debugging and learning. Believe me, even after several years of mobile development sometimes I am facing problems I can’t solve alone or fast enough.

    So be careful when choosing mobile framework, pick 2-3 and spend several days reading about them.

    Links

    Here are few links to help you decide:

    PhoneGap + jQuery Mobile 1.4 tutorial – This is a step by step tutorial for PhoneGap and last version of jQuery Mobile

    PhoneGap + jQuery Mobile 1.4 tutorial – MacOS version – This is a step by step tutorial for PhoneGap deployment on MacOS. jQuery Mobile part is covered in a previous article, no point in repeating things.

    jQuery Mobile vs Sencha Touch – jQuery Mobile Sencha Touch comparison

    jQuery Mobile vs Kendo UI – jQuery Mobile Kendo UI comparison

    7 best known HTML5 mobile frameworks – Name tells everything

    7 less known HTML5 mobile frameworks – Name tells everything

    if your application does’t have animation effects and simple i prefer to create in a web(Phonegap) cz at less amount of time we can launch in multiple types of mobile OS.
    if your app contain more UI effects and animation then it is best to go with native..

    even though you develop in webview(Phonegap) you need learn some basic steps in Android and iOS

    How Phonegap performs in devices

    Ios
    The animations and view loading in ios webview is stranded and good, the animation effects can observer clearly

    Android
    We have to consider the device version and device company for android while running the html code, Some high config devices in android give more clear and efficient animation display, but some devices (mostly old version and some company devices) cant give good animation effects, rendering effect varies from device to device in android,

    In my humble opinion with Phonegap you can just develope simple apps, nothing more. The documentation is not enough and like others have said you will spend much more time fixing bugs and finding plugins than building your app. I would make the effort to learn Android or iOS or whatever, look at it as an investment of your time. (Yes, my comment is a little biased).

    Last I looked into it PhoneGap was all html,css, and javascript. So, you may feel right at home. PhoneGap can handle GPS location, see this article from PhoneGap’s documentation. Whether or not you want to pick up Objective C would depend on how fast you pick up new languages as it is a bit of a departure from web development.

    It totally depends on your needs

    After publishing my first app several months (native Android, database driven, restful connecting app), I decided to rewrite my app by using phonegap (since I want to clone the app to iOS, so instead of doing it in ObjC, why not javascript ?)

    When on Android, it costed me, a Java developer, 3 weeks to learn and code everything from scratch. Banging my head to the wall several times for how to make the ListAdapter sync with the Restful Service from my server, how to theme the app (quite hard in my opinion, especially when it comes to special effects like transparent, border,…), and also, how to structure your code base effectively (if you are familiar with Java, you will find that all the classes are very coupled to each others, since that is what most of the tutorials write about)

    When on Phonegap, everything is done in 1 week. Css, html, with onsenui and angular make the GUI development just like about 1 st year student ‘s assignment and theming is just a piece of cake. I don’t need to run it on the real device, just use browser during the development, change code and refresh are enough. Angular provides 2 way binding with the DOM, and this makes a huge awesomeness when collecting and showing data. For example:

    <ul ng-each="for sentence in sentences" >
       <li>{{ sentence.title }} </li>
    </ul>
    

    When the variable sentences is changed (retrieved from server), the DOM is automatically changed as well. However, javascript is only javascript. I found myself struggling many time when debugging the app, especially when doing the MapReduce functions with PouchDB (big mistake, have to go back to cordova-sqlite-plugin tonight) and most of the time, I have to read the log in order to figure out the problem (Chrome ‘s tools and Firebug cannot catch the breakpoint). Also, it is hard to restructure your app (javascript, again) so if you don’t organise carefully your code base at the first sign, you might end up with a mess (and debugging is a real pain, again). PhoneGap is also Web based, so sometimes, you will hear that “because on this platform, it does not support that bla bla bla” (e.g, localStorage) and you have to stand for it if you cannot find any good plugin.

    Conclusion Except for the limitation of the web-based storage, PhoneGap works quite well with the database driven, simple GUI app (and most of the database driven apps currently has a simple GUI anyway). If you gonna develop that kind of app, then stick with it

    check out using ionic, backed by angular.js to offset some of the cons mentioned in the accepted answer. Tutorial for launching an employee directory app: http://coenraets.org/blog/2014/02/sample-mobile-application-with-ionic-and-angularjs/

    There’s also AppGyver Steroids that unites PhoneGap and Native UI very well.

    With Steroids you can add things like native tabs, native navigation bar, native animations and transitions, native modal windows, native drawer/panel (facebooks side menu) etc. to your PhoneGap app. Basically, anywhere CSS + JS don’t cut it, Steroids reaches into the native layer to perform the action.

    Also, with steroids, you can (although you don’t have to) use multi-page architecture (multiple webviews) rather than single. With single page apps, all things like transitions are just CSS workarounds, and as Mani said, even modern tablets and phones aren’t fast enough to make them smooth. It’s always obvious when it’s a phonegap app, especially when you’ve got a bunch of processes going, or if you’re scrolling since JS processes are haulted (being fixed in iOS 8).

    Using the multi-page architecture means you get 100% native performance (because those parts actually are native). And unlike phonegap, you’ll get consistent user interface behavior and easier debugging (with a single page app, it’s often difficult to recreate a particular state in your app). Multi page makes it far easier to develop and maintain your apps since your codebase stays cleaner.

    Check the demo: http://youtu.be/oXWwDMdoTCk?t=20m17s

    I also find a every good article here http://www.comentum.com/phonegap-vs-native-app-development.html, it compares these two ways in different categories.

    The summary is as below:

    1. Design of Interfaces (Same)
    2. Cost (Hybrid has Advantage)
    3. Development Timeline (Hybrid has Advantage)
    4. User Experience and Performance (Native has Advantage)
    5. Maintainability (Same)
    6. No Limitations (Native has Advantage)
    7. Security (Same)
    8. Support and Resources (Native has Advantage)
    9. Tools and Debugging (Native has Advantage)
    10. Platform Independent (Hybrid has Advantage)
    11. Popularity (Same)

    @Gajotres wrote a great response, but hybrid app performance has come a long way since 2012. I answered a related question that covers the difference between hybrid and native app development in 2017.

    The moral of the story is that hybrid app development has improved tremendously in the past few years, but it still cannot match native for certain use cases.

    With tools like Ionic (first released in 2013) and React Native (first released in 2015) it is easier than ever to build hybrid apps with native-like components. Hybrid apps are now faster, less buggy, and able to interact more deeply with the native UI.

    The threshold for hybrid app performance is substantially higher than just a few years ago, but there is still a point at which you may need to develop your app in a native language.

    Original Answer:

    Yes, the general sentiment is that Hybrid apps are inferior to Native
    apps. While this can be frustrating for developers more familiar with
    web technologies, it does come for good reason:

    1. Inability to interact with native components: Although plugins such as cordova-plugin-statusbar exist, there are limitations
      interacting with and manipulating native components using web
      technologies. One great (and frustrating) issue I have personally run
      into is the inability to have an input at the top of they keyboard as
      the keyboard animates in. This sounds like a nonissue until you look
      at an app where this is an essential feature such as in a chat app
      like Slack.
    2. 300ms delay: Although modern browsers are beginning to phase this
      out,
      the fraction of a second delay present on Hybrid apps makes the app
      feel slow and non-native. This issue is becoming less of a factor as
      more users adopt workarounds such as
      FastClick.js and some
      frameworks such as Ionic eliminate it
      by default.
    3. The haters are right (sort of): While Hybrid app development has come a long way, there are still minor glitches and laggy
      functions that are just not present in a Native app. Screen
      transitions, app switching, and battery life are still common areas
      for bugs to appear and likely will be for some time, even if they are
      starting to become less and less noticeable.
    4. There are some great Native solutions: With newer languages such as Apple’s Swift it is becoming easier to
      code in a Native language. That being said, tools such as React
      Native fall into a gray
      area between Native and Hybrid by allowing developers to code in
      friendly technologies such as JavaScript but compile into native code.

    The moral of the story is that it really depends what is important to
    your specific use case. Hybrid apps have become a viable option and
    are no longer an embarrassing side show. Conversely, there are still
    minor aspects of interacting with the Native UX that are not yet
    possible except with a Native app.

    Overall, I recommend mapping out your project and determining if your
    app needs any of the benefits of a Native app. With tools such as
    Ionic View app it is easy to put together a
    basic mockup of your app and test on a real device whether or not a
    Hybrid app will work for you.

    Android Babe is a Google Android Fan, All about Android Phones, Android Wear, Android Dev and Android Games Apps and so on.