A hybrid app is a combination of both a native application and a web-based solution. Basically, they are a webpage put into an app that allows you the ease of just opening an app instead of having to visit the web page to access the interface.

These Hybrid Apps are able to be downloaded to your mobile device, just like a native app, but are written in HTML5, CSS, and JavaScript, similar to a web-based solution. One of the biggest values of this is that some of these applications can be made to work offline, unlike accessing their website counterparts. While this isn’t the case for every hybrid app, it is certainly a plus in development that it is an option.

The Difference Between Hybrid and Native Apps

A native app is an application developed specifically for a certain mobile operating system. While both systems likely have the same type of application, the way it is written for Android is different than how it is written for iOS. These apps are downloaded from either Google Play or Apple’s App store and are installed directly onto your smart phone. Native apps are only good on their operating system and cannot function on the other. They are also built for full function with your device features, like your camera and microphone. Many popular social apps like Instagram and Facebook are native apps. Although you will find similar versions on each device, they are written specifically for the device they are installed on.

A hybrid app installs the same as a native app on the respective app stores, but inside the app it runs like a web app. The advantage here is that one version of the app runs across both platforms. They are integrated to fully function with your device, much like the native app, and access your photos and your microphone.

Pros and Cons for Hybrid Apps

On the surface, the hybrid app seems like the clear better choice, and for some that may be the case. However, it is not the better choice in every situation and there are pros and cons to the hybrid apps.

One big positive is the turnaround time for building. It is much quicker to build a hybrid app than it is to build a native app since you are only designing and writing code for one type of device. Many native apps need two developers, one who specializes in android and one who specializes in iOS. It is also much cheaper to build a hybrid app because you only need one developer.  Another positive feature is depending on the app, there is still offline accessibility, much like a native app.

The downfall to this is your app is only as good as the web view from the website it is pulling from. This can cause the appearance to vary from platform to platform and some of the features to be unavailable depending on the platform you are using. Additionally, since hybrid apps are basically web pages set to act like an app, they are often not able to offer the same reactivity that a native app can have. This can be frustrating to users who are used to having instant control over what they want to happen. Another con is what you hope your app can evolve and do. If you are looking to enhance your app as technology grows, or expect your app to go viral, building a hybrid app may not be the best choice for you. While the technology they are built upon can do a lot, it is not as limitless as a native app and cannot evolve as easily. You can save yourself a lot of time and money by choosing the right way to develop an app from the beginning.

Why Should You Choose a Hybrid App

With all of the different types of applications you can build out there, how do you know that a hybrid app is the right choice for you?

If you can answer yes to these questions, the hybrid app is your go-to:

  • Do you want something that can be built quickly?
  • Does your app consist mainly of information and graphics and not a lot of interaction?
  • Are you on a budget that won’t allow two web developers for a native system?
  • Do you want a product that can be downloaded to both Android and iOS on the same development?
  • Are you looking for a cost-saving way to still integrate your app with your device accessories, such as camera and GPS?

A hybrid app is a great way to quickly build an affordable application with many of the great attributes a native app has to offer without the long wait times and high costs.