Hybrid Mobile Apps: How to Provide a Native Experience with Web Technologies

If you’re about to create an application to get in on this revenue, you’ll face a broad range of solutions to use in developing your app and this generates a lot of questions.

Is developing your mobile app wholly on native solutions the best option?

Should you use hybrid solutions instead?

Mobile App Development on The Rise

With app usage and revenue increasing, you’ll have to make some important choices for your app.

A recent Statista research predicted that by 2020 mobile app development would yield $188.9 billion in global revenue.

Choosing the best solution for your mobile application depends on factors such as:

  • The expected development timeline
  • Your team’s technological experience
  • Your budget
  • The target audience

Yet, hybrid solutions seem to be a good choice if you want to offer your app across platforms.

Here’s how they differ from native solutions and in what scenarios you should opt for hybrid solutions.

Defining The Hybrid Development Solution

Hybrid solutions are a blend of both web and native solutions with the core of the mobile application created using web technologies such as Javascript, CSS, and HTML.

The web platform used to create the code then wraps it in a native shell.

By using plugins, the hybrid application can also gain full access to the device’s features.

What Is The Difference Between Hybrid and Native Apps?

Native applications refer to apps written with the native development language of the platform it will run on.

For example, you can only write native iOS applications in Objective-C or Swift and then compile them with Xcode; on the other hand, you can only create native Android applications in Java or Kotlin and then compile them with Android Studio. 

Native apps allow developers complete and easy access to the user’s mobile device capabilities such as the address book, device sensors and the latest updates the user’s phone offers.

However, they are limited if you intend to have your apps on multiple platforms. An iOS app cannot run on Android and vice-versa, so you would need to create a version for each platform, which will lead to a larger team size and budget.

Hybrid apps can run on multiple platforms effortlessly and still maintain native app functions.

This is exactly the reason why a lot of silicon valley developers now offer hybrid mobile app development due to its versatility. 

The following infographic elaborates their differences very well:

How Hybrid Apps Provide a Native Experience With Web Technologies

A hybrid mobile application is simply an app written with Javascript, CSS, and HTML.

However, the user does not interact with the app in a web browser; rather it runs from a native application and a unique embedded browser, which the user is oblivious to.

For instance, an Android application would use WebView to display your application while on iOS it would use UIWebView to carry out the same function.

You can then wrap the code in a native application using a solution like Cordova. Cordova then develops a native shell app that is essentially the platform’s Webview component used to load your web application.

With this, you can develop and offer true native apps that you can sell on various app stores.

Cordova also possesses a plugin system that enables you to go beyond browser limitations and have full access to all the capabilities of the user’s mobile device.

If you want to implement TouchID as a login option on an iOS device or want to connect Bluetooth devices, you can achieve this by installing a plugin.

Hence, you can overcome web-only application limitations and allow your application to provide a native experience.

Opting for a Hybrid Development Solution

So, when should your business opt for a hybrid mobile app?

When You Want to Focus on Other Aspects of Your App Asides Codebases

Hybrid solutions allow you to create apps for numerous platforms utilizing a single codebase.

With this, you can eliminate the time spent on developing and maintaining different codebases for multiple platforms (Android, desktop Web, Progressive Web App, iOS, etc.) and have more time to enhancing app quality.

When You Intend to Create Seamless Experiences Across Multiple Platforms

Users expect to have smooth app experiences when they transit from device to device and if you intend to offer this to them, taking the hybrid approach is the best choice.

You can effortlessly offer similar experiences and features across mobile devices, all from one codebase.  Your mobile app will automatically adhere to the design features of whatever devices your users use per time, whether iOS or Android.

Take, for example, the Dow Jones MarketWatch app. A news app that serves more than 600,000 monthly users and migrated to a single codebase. This enabled their two-man developer team to deliver a seamless experience across their various target platforms.

If you Desire to Make Real-Time Updates

An amazing thing about taking the hybrid approach is that you will be able to update your application on the go, without having to ask users to update or submit updated versions to app stores.

This is possible because the app store policies demand that updates to native code must be via the app store, but it is permissible to update aspects of your app, taken as web assets.

Since 90% of hybrid mobile apps function at the web layer, you can effortlessly implement changes such as new features, and vital bug fixes.

So if you want your users to constantly get a stellar experience free of bugs and outdated features, the hybrid approach is the way to go.

When You Want Quality Performance

For mobile app performance, it’s crucial to ensure a quality user experience and unless you are developing a graphics-intensive app like a 3-dimensional game, hybrid solutions will offer you the performance quality you require to keep your users happy.

Conclusion

Unless you intend to create a mobile app that requires massive device resources, the hybrid solution is your best option.

You will save up on costs, get an easier development approach and have compatibility across multiple platforms.

What has been your experience with developing or using hybrid mobile apps? 

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