The Hybrid Mobile Application: A Viable Alternative to Native or Mobile Web Solutions?

Many business owners express confusion when confronted with the choice of mobile apps. Traditionally, the decision was possibly less complex, as there were only two apps to choose from: the native app, and the web apps. Today, however, there is a new addition to the list: the hybrid app.

What is a Hybrid App?

The hybrid app is one that combines elements of both web and native apps. Web apps, generalised for several platforms are not installed on a computer or other device, but can be accessed over the internet. Native apps, developed for a specific platform are installed on a computer or other device.

The hybrid app, being a combination of both native and web apps offers several features, including:

  • Constant ability to function whether the user's device is online or not;
  • Integration with the file system of a device;
  • Improved access to online content via an embedded browser.
  • The ability to integrate with web-based services.

Most of today’s apps can be considered to be hybrid apps, as they offer features such as locally-stored content and the ability to access online services.

Technologies

Hybrid mobile apps also use a combination of web technologies. For example, JavaScript, HTML and CSS may be used to build a hybrid app. The hybrid app is also hosted on the inside of a native application. This native application uses the WebView of a mobile device’s operating system to access the capabilities within a device. Some examples of the capabilities a hybrid app may access include the contact list, camera and accelerometer.

Benefits of Building a Hybrid Framework

There are many benefits to building a hybrid app.

Not only can the developer use their existing web skills, but multiple platforms require only one code base. As well, various form factors like tablets can be easily designed with responsive UX, with access to some features of device operating systems.

The hybrid app can also obtain increased visibility due to its ability to be distributed, both to mobile browsers via search engines and natively via app stores.

Hybrid Framework Tools

Those looking to develop hybrid apps have many choices before them as to which tools to use. Some of these include Mobile Angular UI, Sencha Touch, Intel XDK and PhoneGap. However, PhoneGap and Appcelerator are two main leaders in the arena.

Typically, a developer would create local CSS, Javascript or HTML files, and then design the hybrid app as they would a website. The last step would be using Cordova, which would allow them to convert the information into a mobile app.

As easy as it can be to create a hybrid app, the challenge comes with getting the app to run properly on each platform. This can take much work, and so the choice to create a hybrid app depends on the simplicity of the app, as well as how close a developer wants to get the user to a native experience.

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Article written by Admin.

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