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April 08, 2020 - BY Admin

Hybrid mobile apps development

What are hybrid mobile apps?

Hybrid mobile apps are applications that are installed on a device, just like any other app. What differentiates them is the fact they possess elements from native apps, applications developed for a specific platform such as iOS or Android, with elements from web apps, websites that act like apps but are not installed on a device but are accessed on the Internet via a browser.

Hybrid apps are deployed in a native container that uses a mobile WebView object. When the app is used, this object displays web content thanks to the use of web technologies (CSS, JavaScript, HTML, HTML5).

It is in fact displaying web pages from a desktop website that are adapted to a WebView display. The web content can either be displayed as soon as the app is opened or for certain parts of the app only i.e. for the purchase funnel.

In order to access a device's hardware features (accelerometer, camera, contacts…) for which the native apps are installed, it is possible to include native elements of each platform’s user interfaces (iOS, Android): native code will be used to access the specific features in order to create a seamless user experience. Hybrid apps can also rely on platforms that offer JavaScript APIs if those functionalities are called within a WebView.

What are the advantages of hybrid apps?

Hybrid apps offer a certain number of advantages:

  • Combining user experience with an agile development cycle and controlled costs.
  • Avoid the limitations of the Apple App Store: to deploy an application on the Apple App Store, the app has to be submitted and there is a waiting time for validation. The delay will vary depending on the time of the year, but also depending on whether it is a first submission or an update. It generally takes between 1 to 7 days. Hybrid apps thus offer a great advantage for developers who wish to update their app frequently as it is not necessary to resubmit the new version if the modifications haven’t touched native code.
  • Finding resources: most applications have an iOS version and an Android version. They are thus developed using the corresponding programming language: Objective-C or Swift for iOS, Java for Android. Hybrid apps allow for the use of programming languages used frequently by web developers (HTML, JavaScript and CSS) who can thus reuse their knowledge. This makes finding resources to build a hybrid app easier.
  • Reusing the code of the web app part: the code is written once and deployed across all mobile platforms.
  • Reducing development time and costs: the code is written once, which substantially reduces development time and costs compared to native apps which require development for iOS and development for Android.

What are the limitations of hybrid apps?

  • A limited user interface: hybrid apps have a design that doesn’t have a native feel. The user interface thus isn’t as seamless. Possibilities (3D for example) are also restricted due to the fact that WebView is used and that this doesn’t allow the exploitation of the devices’ full potential.
  • The difficulty or impossibility to exploit the platforms’ capacities in full. Each platform, iOS or Android, has unique capacities that a developer may wish to exploit. If this is the case, a combination of specific plugins and code of the platform will be used to achieve this on a hybrid app. This further complicates the app development project.
  • Slower performance and transition between pages.
  • Dependency on the browser’s speed.
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