When it comes to apps, you actually get to choose from a small variety. No, we’re not talking about the various apps you find on the app store. We’re talking about the types of apps. In the app world, there exist mainly 3 kinds of apps – Native, Web, and Hybrid.

Everything You Need To Know About Hybrid Apps

In this blog, we’re going to discuss what Hybrid Apps are.

A Brief Introduction

Hybrid apps are just like any other apps. You can install them on a smart device and you’ll definitely find them on app stores. You can use them for a wide range of purposes as well. This includes playing games, clicking pictures, tracking health, and entertainment etc.

However, what makes them different is the way they are developed. Hybrid app development relies on combining multiple web technologies such as JavaScript, CSS, and HTML. Such apps are hosted within a native application that makes use of the WebView incorporated into the application’s mobile platform.

As a result, hybrid apps gain the ability to access device features such as contacts, camera, and accelerometer etc. Such features are normally restricted from within mobile browsers.

Additionally, hybrid apps can possess native user interface elements based on need and requirement.

Understanding how apps are built can be confusing for the average person. The same goes for hybrid applications. They look and perform just like native apps and that’s exactly what they are supposed to do anyway. Above all, it doesn’t matter to the end user.

Nevertheless, it’s always good to know as much as possible and as a business that’s planning to go the app way, maybe knowing something about hybrid apps can help make the decision making process shorter and easier.

The Development Process

Hybrid apps are developed in the same way websites are. As mentioned earlier, technologies such as CSS, HTML, and JavaScript are combined. The difference, however, lies in what hybrid apps target. Hybrid apps do not target browsers. Instead, they go for the WebView installed within a native container.  This gives them access to the device’s hardware functions.

Most hybrid apps that come out today benefit from the Apache Cordova. Apache Cordova is a platform that offers JavaScript APIs that enable the app to access device capabilities using plug-ins. These plug-ins are developed using native code.

The application assets like JavaScript, CSS, and HTML are packaged via Apache Cordova tools in order to target platform SDKs. Once developed, the application can function like any other application on the given device.

Reasons to use a Hybrid App

Hybrid apps offer app developers the opportunity to use their skills repeatedly in web development. App developers aren’t too fond of working with proprietary platforms.

Also, hybrid apps contribute to a better bottom line. Instead of hiring individual app developers for each platform, it is cheaper to have one developer who targets the through CSS, HTML, and JavaScript. Of course, this isn’t as easy as it sounds. Each platform has its own set of rules and regulations to be followed with regard to WebView or web runtime.  In fact, this is apparent with Android, which is known to be inconsistent across versions.

Also, each platform might have a unique set of capabilities that the developer might want to target. In such scenarios, a mix of plugins and codes that are platform-specific must be used in order to gain maximum advantage over the platform’s unique capabilities.

Things to consider

Before settling for a platform strategy, it’s necessary to assess all the merits (technical and non-technical) of a hybrid app over a native or web app.  You need to:

  • Discuss about the mobile platforms you intend to target.
  • Discuss application distribution.
  • Discuss utilization of device capabilities.
  • Discuss your team’s technical abilities.
  • Discuss the “single shot solution” approach that hybrid apps are known for.

These topics definitely need to be discussed before seeking an appropriate app strategy. For example, if you’re looking to target multiple platforms, hybrid apps are a great choice as they rely on WebView, instead of a browser.