Native Mobile Platforms VS PhoneGap – A Comparison

Contributed by Yokesh Thirumoorthi on 15 Nov 2013

Before you decide on whether you should choose to build a Hybrid PhoneGap-based App or a native mobile App on platforms like Android, iOS, Windows Phone, etc , let us put forth the pros and cons of both and make it easier for you to weigh them on equal footing.

Native Applications:
The capabilities of any native application are directly based upon the device OS as they are developed using the APIs provided by the device OS itself. Hence, these applications could seamlessly use all possible features of the device. Also, in native applications, programmers could easily control the level of user experience without compromising on any other principal aspects of the application such as performance, battery drain, etc. It is also easy to do code enhancements for these applications.

But, on the other hand, native applications could be programmed only with the specific application development language, such as objective-C for iOS and Java for Android, that the device OS APIs support. Hence, the native application for each OS should be developed separately by high-skilled programmers who are specialized in the respective application development languages.

Along with investment on high-skilled programmers, programming native applications for iOS also requires an addition investment on development-infrastructure, because native applications for iOS could be developed only using Mac machines.

PhoneGap Applications:
PhoneGap is a free and Open Source framework that enables building hybrid applications which work on most of the renowned mobile platforms such as Android, iOS, Blackberry, and Windows Phone. PhoneGap framework is used by several mobile application platforms such as ViziApps, Worklight, Convertigo and appMobi as the backbone of their mobile client development engine.
Hybrid applications are those which partially behave like native applications and partially like web-based applications. PhoneGap framework provides a container that abridges the native APIs to the web view. Hence, web-based mobile applications that have minimal dependencies on the native device capabilities could be developed using PhoneGap framework.

Since development using PhoneGap framework could be done using common web technologies such as HTML, CSS and JavaScript, and the same application could work cross-platform, the application development cost for multiple mobile OS is very less compared to the application development in the native way.

Although PhoneGap framework seems to provide some jaw-dropping advantages on cost, time and effort, with the current generation of release, it has some serious concerns to be addressed yet.
1. The container layer does not provide sufficient options for developers to measure and optimize the application performance.
2. PhoneGap framework is not optimized to build graphic intensive user interface.
3. Compared to iOS and Android, PhoneGap lacks strong document support for programmers.

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