What is a Hybrid App? And Why Should My Business Care?

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What is a Hybrid App? And Why Should My Business Care?

If you're about to embark on a new app development adventure, you'll need to consider this.

· Mobile Zone ·
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.With the explosion of various app technologies over the last several years, it can be hard to wrap your head around all the different ways to build a mobile application. Whether your business is just thinking about building an app, or you’re a seasoned developer, one of the first questions you must ask is “should the app be built using native or hybrid technologies?”

First, let’s take a look at the options and what they mean.

Native Apps

A native app is the more traditional method for app development. Generally written in the core language for a single platform (Objective-C/Swift for iOS, Java for Android), these apps are built specifically for that platform. Native development is low-level, so the performance is optimized and all the platform’s features are accessible. However, they are usually the most difficult and time-consuming to build.

Web Apps

A web app is a fancy name for a mobile-optimized website. You can find these simply by opening your web browser on your phone and navigating to your favorite website. These are built using traditional web technologies like HTML, CSS and Javascript, and are an extension of a company’s existing website. Content, design and features can be changed on the fly – but they don’t usually have the feel and extended functionality of a native app that resides on your phone.

Hybrid Apps

Hybrid apps combine the best of both worlds, mixing the performance and device capabilities of native development with the flexibility of the web. They work by taking a native application and embedding a webview inside of it. A webview is a specific native view that – you guessed it – renders web content within the app.

This allows you to develop certain features on the native side, while interfacing with other content and other features on the web side. Android and iOS provide very easy methods to communicate back and forth, so your users won’t even notice when they transition from native to web and back again.

So what’s the benefit here?

Sharing is Caring

The great thing about web technology is that it runs on every major platform. This allows you to reuse code across Android, iOS, Windows, etc. Using CSS makes the design flexible and accommodates all kinds of device sizes, while HTML and Javascript run seamlessly on all different platforms.

This is a major advantage over native, where you have to develop each component for every different platform you support. By leveraging webviews, you can build sections of your code once and run it on all platforms! It’s quicker to build and easier to maintain, and you can even leverage a larger set of developers to implement the more common web technologies.

Why now?

The “Native vs. Hybrid” debate has been raging for years, so what’s new here? Recently we’ve been seeing an increase in hybrid app development. In fact, Gartner predicts that by the end of next year,more than 50% of apps will be developed with hybrid technologies. Both Android and iOS have improved their support for webkit (the underlying technology in webviews) to make hybrid performance faster and better. With the need for businesses to reach as many platforms and devices as possible, hybrid will be the most tangible way to accomplish that using the least amount of development resources.

What’s next?

In our upcoming posts, we’ll dive deeper into what makes a hybrid app tick – including some added benefits and drawbacks that should be considered when building your app. Until then, check out ourintroductory video on hybrid app development!

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Published at DZone with permission of Chris Beauchamp , DZone MVB. See the original article here.

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