Hybrid Apps

What is a Hybrid App and When Should You Choose it?

To a user, a hybrid app is almost indistinguishable from a native app. They look and feel like native apps and users can find them in the App Store. Hybrid mobile apps allow users to take photos, track physical activity, receive push notifications, and more. Many of the most popular apps available in app stores today are actually hybrids. Twitter, Uber, Instagram, Evernote and even the Apple App Store itself are hybrid apps*.

*Source: http://blog.venturepact.com/8-high-performance-apps-you-never-knew-were-hybrid/

Benefits of a hybrid app over a native app

  • One code base to develop and maintain

    Unlike native apps, hybrid apps have one common code base that works on all devices, which means the code is developed once per app rather than one for each platform. Developers then package the code for different devices and deploy it to app stores.

  • Faster to develop

    Developers can program hybrid apps in any web language. Since web languages are typically easier and more widely known than native OS languages, developers are able to produce hybrid apps more quickly. Plus, it’s much faster to develop one application than to develop multiple.

  • Less expensive

    Hybrid apps are less expensive to develop and maintain because they only require one code base.

Advantages of a hybrid app over a web app

  • Download from app stores

    Users easily find and download hybrid apps from app stores. They must go to a URL in a browser to access a web app.

  • Access to Native Features

    Hybrid apps have extensive access to native device features, such as the camera, calendar and push notifications. Web apps have limited access to such features.

  • No Internet Connection Required

    Unlike web apps, hybrid apps are usable without internet connection. Web apps will always require an internet connection for use.

Does that mean hybrid apps are best?

It depends.

Native apps have a slight edge when it comes to performance, but hybrid apps are quite fast and are gaining speed. Native apps also have more advanced access to the device’s native features, such as the camera and calendar. So, if your app is complex and requires extremely tight integration with those features, it may make sense to go with a native app.

One major benefit of web apps is that they don’t require users to download the app – or updates. All updates are done through the web server. They also don’t require approval from the app store. Plus, since they are actually just responsive websites, they are accessible from desktops as well as mobile devices without any extra work. They are by far the easiest, fastest and least expensive to develop and maintain. If you have a tight budget and deadline, and want to eliminate the need for users to download anything, a web app is the way to go.

One thing to keep in mind is that a hybrid app starts out as a web app. So if your end-goal is a hybrid app, a web app is step 1.

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