In accordance to the past report, HTML is one of the many languages which mobile app developers desire to use. Mobile app developers use HTML and similar web technologies to develop hybrid apps. The two vital reasons to embrace web technologies for mobile app development are cross-platform portability of code and the low cost of development. Though, the report further propose that hybrid apps are sluggish and poorly designed.

In this post, we will see what hybrid mobile apps are and what approaches are used to develop these apps. Before digging into it, let’s see what the two other primary mobile app categories are.

Native Vs Web Apps

Native apps are programs developed significantly for one platform. These apps live on a device and can access all of its hardware capabilities (such as GPS, Gyroscope, Camera, etc).

Web apps can be thought of as websites that in many ways look and feel like native applications. They are run by web-browsers (such as Safari & Chrome) and are mostly developed in HTML.

What Are Hybrid Mobile Apps?

Electing a native mobile apps enables developers to employ all of the competencies of a device and operating system and optimize their app for superlative performance and stability. On the other hand, electing the web app category enables developers to be able to port their code across platforms, thus resulting in reduced development time and cost. However, there are developers who try to develop an experience that could use and share the best of both worlds. Hybrid apps uses a common code base to deploy native-feeling apps to an extensive range of platforms.

Approaches To Develop A Hybrid Mobile App

There are diverse approaches for developing hybrid apps, but two of these approaches are extensively practiced by developers: WebView app and compiled hybrid app.

WebView App

The best example of the WebView approach would be Adobe’s PhoneGap. It is a mobile application development framework, empowering developers to build mobile apps using HTML, JavaScript, and CSS. In PhoneGap, the HTML, CSS and JavaScript code base runs in an internal browser (called WebView) that is later on sewed in a native app design.

Compiled Hybrid App

In this approach the code is written in one language (like C# or JavaScript) and afterwards  compiled to native code for each supported platform. As you can understand, the result is a native app for each platform. However this approach gives limited freedom during development.

Both these approaches are extensively used and help developers in many particular ways. However, WebView is preferred by many developers, because it enables them to use their existing web development skills.

Pros Of Developing a Hybrid Mobile App

  • Developers can utilize their existing web development skills.
  • Developers only need one code base for multiple platforms
  • It significantly reduces development time and cost
  • The design process is very easy for different form factors (including tablets), using responsive web design.
  • The apps can possess advanced offline capabilities
  • Increased visibility because the app can be distributed natively (via app stores) and to mobile browsers (via search engines)

Cons Of Developing a Hybrid Mobile App

  • Performance issues for certain types of apps (like 3D GAMES that relies on complex native functionality or heavy transitions).
  • Increased time and effort required to imitate a native feel and UI.
  • Not every feature on the device and operating system is supported.
  • Risk of being rejected by app stores.

After understanding about hybrid mobile apps, I think hybrid mobile app development is not suitable for all kinds of apps. The developers will need to carefully analyze the target audience, their platforms of choice and the app’s requirements. Having said that, the hybrid approach will be best suited to content-driven apps, where benefits will outweigh the drawbacks.