When it comes to developing mobile apps, developers have various options to explore. One of the first decisions that businesses looking to develop mobile apps have to make is whether they want to develop a native app, web app, or a hybrid app. There are several factors that may impact your decision, such as budget, timeline, target audience, future maintenance, user interface, user experience, and technical skills of your developers. Each of these different types of apps has its own set of pros and cons.
In this blog, we will take a closer look at hybrid apps, their advantages and disadvantages, how do they compare with native and web apps, when to opt for hybrid apps, and more.
What are Hybrid Apps?
So, once the app is downloaded from the app store and installed on the device, the native app shell connects to the relevant capabilities that the mobile platform offers through a browser that is embedded in the app. The end-user cannot see the browser and its plug-ins which run in the background.
One of the reasons why hybrid apps have become popular is because it enables developers to write code for the app just once while accommodating various platforms. Some of the key features that you would find in hybrid apps include:
- The hybrid apps will perform irrespective of whether the device is connected or not.
- It can be integrated with web-based services.
- It offers an embedded browser, which helps to improve access to dynamic content online.
- It can be integrated with the mobile device’s file system.
Even though a hybrid app will have navigation elements that are similar to a web app, its ability to work offline will depend on the various functionalities it has. If in case the hybrid app does not require any database support, then the developers can develop the app to function offline.
Advantages of Hybrid Apps
Here are some of the advantages of using hybrid apps.
- Reach: Hybrid apps offer greater reach with regard to the audience. Usually, businesses that have a limited budget roll out their apps on one platform only initially. As a result, users may have to wait for the app to be rolled out on their operating systems. With hybrid apps, once the app is ready, it can be rolled out on both Android and iOS.
- Cost: Hybrid apps are less expensive as the developers need to build just one codebase, thus making it a more cost-effective option when compared to native apps and web apps.
- Maintenance: The cost of maintenance of hybrid apps is also low. If there are bugs or other issues to resolve, developers can publish one patch to repair the app across all platforms and devices.
- Scalability: Hybrid apps help businesses avoid the problems of delay and differences when launching features on different platforms. As a result, hybrid apps are easily scalable, thus, allowing businesses to release new features simultaneously across all platforms.
- Device Features: The ability of hybrid apps to access device features is similar to that of native apps. As a result, hybrid apps offer better user experience and performance when compared to web apps.
Disadvantages of Hybrid Apps
Some of the disadvantages of using hybrid apps include:
- Performance: Compared to native apps, hybrid apps are slower in performance. This is because native apps are built within the coding languages of Apple/Google, whereas hybrid apps are loaded in a browser-like component, so their performance depends on the browser-like component like webview.
- UI/UX Issues: Hybrid apps do not have the feel of a native design which is why their user interface is not very seamless. Also, if the app is dependent on internet connectivity, then the speed of the internet also affects the UX of the app.
- Test Complexity: Since hybrid apps share codes between various platforms, with some codes in native, it increases the complexity of the test suite.
Comparison – Native vs. Web vs. Hybrid
Here is a snapshot of a brief comparison between the three different types of apps – native, Hybrid, and Web.
|Device Access||Full Access (with plugins)||Full Access||Limited Access|
|Compatibility||Multiple platforms||Built for specific platforms||Accessible on all devices via web browser|
|Cost||Less expensive as it needs to be built just once for multiple platforms||More expensive as it needs to be built separately for multiple platforms||Less expensive as compared to native and hybrid apps|
|Maintenance||Less maintenance||Ongoing maintenance||Less maintenance|
|Deployment||App stores and web||App stores||Web|
Hybrid App Examples
Below are some examples of hybrid apps:
- Amazon App Store
When Should you Opt for Hybrid Apps?
All types of apps, be they native, hybrid, or web, have advantages as well as disadvantages. This makes it difficult for businesses to determine which type of app to consider. Here are some circumstances where using a hybrid app is the best solution:
- If you are aiming to develop apps that can be supported on multiple platforms, then hybrid apps are your best bet. Since these apps require a single codebase, they don’t need extensive development.
- Native apps often require complex programming languages; not all developers may be proficient at it. Hybrid apps require less programming language knowledge, thus, simplifying the hiring process for hybrid app developers.
- If you do not need native apps with advanced features, then you can opt for hybrid apps. It is also easier to test, tweak, and notify basic features in hybrid apps.
- Hybrid apps are also the preferred option if you want your app to have native app elements, but you are on a tight budget. Another advantage of going ahead with hybrid apps is that you don’t have to worry about building out APIs.
We hope this detailed blog helps you to understand what are hybrid apps, how do they work, how do they compare against native and web apps, and when should you opt to use them instead of the other types of apps. Mobile apps are a necessity as they not only help in increasing brand awareness but are also effective in generating leads and pulling in more business.