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Hybrid mobile apps have been around for quite some time now, but advances in mobile development software and changes in user behavior have allowed it to grow. Today, users expect hybrid apps, even if they wouldn’t know what a ‘hybrid app’ actually is.

What is a Hybrid mobile app?

A Hybrid app is essentially a web application that acts like a native app. Or a native app that acts like a web application. That means it can do everything HTML5 does while also incorporating native app features, like access to a phone’s camera. Hybrid mobile apps consist of two parts. The first is the back-end code built using languages such as HTML, CSS, and Javascript. The second is a native shell that loads the code using Webview.

Advantages of hybrid mobile apps

Hybrid apps are much easier to build than native apps. This is because they are built using HTML, CSS, and Javascript – software that typically runs in the browser. They also have a faster development cycle than native apps because you only have a JavaScript codebase. It is, however, important to note that hybrid mobile apps require third-party tools such as Apache Cordova to ease communication between the web view and the native platform. Noteworthy Hybrid apps include MarketWatch, Untappd, Sworkit etc.

Hybrid mobile apps can run on both Android and iOS devices (the two most prominent OS). This is great for developers as it means less work for them – code can be reused for progressive web applications and desktop applications with minor tweaking.

Disadvantages of hybrid mobile apps

Although they’re extremely versatile, hybrid apps have certain disadvantages. They’re often a little more expensive than standard web apps because you have to work with the native wrapper. It’s also sometimes a disadvantage to be dependent on a third-party platform.

Compared to native apps, hybrid apps aren’t quite as interactive and often a bit slower. Of course, the app is dependent on resources from the web. Hybrid mobile apps also generally have a standard template. Any customization you want to do in your application will take you away from the hybrid model. If this is the case, you may as well go native.

Hybrid mobile app frameworks

There are a good range of hybrid mobile application frameworks out there for mobile developers at the moment. Let’s take a look at some of the best.

React Native

Facebook’s React Native is a mobile framework for implementing a single code multiple times. It compiles to native mobile app components to build native mobile applications ( iOS, Android, and Windows) in JavaScript. React Native’s library includes Flexbox CSS styling, inline styling, debugging, and supports deploying to either the App Store or Google Play.

Ionic

Ionic Framework is an open-source SDK for hybrid mobile app development, licensed under MIT. It is built on top of Angular.js and Apache Cordova.  Ionic provides tools and services for developing hybrid mobile apps using Web technologies like CSS, HTML5, and Sass. Apps build using Ionic can be distributed through native app stores to be installed on devices by using Cordova.

Xamarin

Microsoft’s Xamarin Hybrid development platform allows developers to code in C# many platforms in C#. Developers can use Xamarin tools to write native Android, iOS, and Windows apps with a C#-shared codebase, and share code across multiple platforms.

PhoneGap

Adobe PhoneGap framework is an open source distribution of Apache Cordova framework. With PhoneGap, hybrid applications are built with HTML5 and CSS3 (for rendering), and JavaScript (for logic) to be used across multiple platforms.

Hybrid mobile apps are great for users

Hybrid mobile apps are particularly effective when you want to build and deploy an app more efficiently. They are also useful for building prototype applications. However, the key thing to remember about hybrid mobile apps is that many users today expect the type of experience they deliver. The old distinction between browser and native experiences has almost disappeared. A well-written hybrid app does not behave or look any different than its native equivalent and that, really, is what users want.

Also, check out

React Native Cookbook
React and React Native
Learning Ionic – Second Edition
Ionic 2 Cookbook – Second Edition
Mastering Xamarin UI Development


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