What is Hybrid App Development? A Short Guide!

Did you know that the number of mobile network subscriptions across the globe reached almost 6.4 billion in 2022, and is predicted to exceed 7.7 billion by 2028? 

Since the world is witnessing digitization at a scale beyond comparison, every business owner or solopreneur wants to have a mobile app for their enterprise. And for that, the first decision they have to make is whether it will be a native, web, or hybrid app. 

Each type of app has positive and negative sides, so which one is right for you? The way you decide depends on a few things: 

  • Budget

  • Timeline

  • UI&UX

  • Future maintenance

  • Skills of your developers

That’s why, hybrid mobile app development would be an absolute need for faster time-to-market and efficient scalability. Falling between the spectrum of web and native apps, these mobile apps blend the characteristics of both, offering distinct advantages with a balanced approach.

In this article, we will thoroughly analyze the fundamentals of hybrid apps, while exploring the following aspects:

  • How Do Hybrid Apps Work?

  • Which popular apps are Hybrid?

  • What is the difference between Native and Hybrid Apps?

  • What are the benefits of a Hybrid App?

  • What are the disadvantages of a Hybrid App?

  • Best Framework for Hybrid App Development

  • Stages of Hybrid Mobile App Development

  • How much does Hybrid App Development Cost?

  • Why should you partner with DianApps for your Hybrid Mobile App Development Project?

So, let’s get started with the subject matter!

What is a Hybrid App?

Hybrid app development blends the strengths of both native and web apps, crafting mobile applications using JavaScript, CSS, and HTML5. This approach ensures compatibility across various operating systems, including Android and iOS, making it an efficient solution for cross-platform requirements. Many hybrid apps deliver exceptional user experiences, capitalizing on seamless performance, functionality, and interfaces.

Despite these advantages, hybrid apps have limitations and may only be the universal choice for some businesses. A thorough exploration of the pros and cons of hybrid mobile app development is essential to determine its suitability for your software solutions. 

So, before delving into this analysis, it's crucial to know the working methodology of the Hybrid apps. This understanding becomes the basis for you to make informed decisions before you proceed toward hybrid mobile app development.

How Do Hybrid Apps Work?

Developers craft hybrid apps using familiar web technologies like CSS, HTML, and JavaScript. To make them work like regular apps, the code gets wrapped with a native application through the most popular hybrid app frameworks like React Native or Ionic. This wrapping lets the app run on each platform's built-in browser, making it installable on mobile devices and ready for an app store sale, just like native apps.

With plugins, hybrid apps gain full access to a device's features, such as GPS, camera, or address book. The wrapper solutions also offer UI components for a native look.

On the other hand, native apps are designed for a specific operating system, utilizing its unique features. Google Maps, Facebook, and LinkedIn are examples made exclusively for iOS or Android, requiring separate codes.

Hybrid apps, in contrast, allow mobile app developers to write one code that works on multiple systems, making it a more straightforward and cost-effective approach. Big names like Amazon, Nike, Walmart, and Etsy prefer hybrid models. What’s more interesting to know is that a whopping 74% of the top 50 iOS retail applications in the US are hybrid.

Which popular apps are Hybrid?

  1. Gmail: Gmail, the widely used email client, is technically a hybrid app employing JavaScript, Ajax, Vue.js, and jQuery for its front end.

  2. Instagram: This app falls into the hybrid app category since its timeline functions as a web view. The image-centric social media platform is crafted with the React Native app development framework. 

  3. Twitter: Twitter is another hybrid app showcasing that performance isn't an issue in this development type. Handling massive traffic daily, it remains accessible to millions of users. 

  4. Uber: A prime example, utilizes a hybrid app. Its user-friendly interface and smooth navigation contribute to its status as one of the most widely used ridesharing apps globally. 

What is the difference between Native and Hybrid Apps?

The primary distinction between native and hybrid apps lies in their mobile app development approach. Native apps are crafted specifically for a particular operating system, while hybrid apps aim for cross-platform compatibility. 

Overview of Hybrid Apps:

  • Enhance developer efficiency with cross-platform compatibility.

  • Utilize website development tech stacks like CSS, HTML, and Javascript.

  • Achieve native performance using frameworks such as React Native, which compiles Javascript code to machine code.

  • Offer cost advantages compared to native apps.

  • Support ample native features, enabling offline functionality.

Overview of Native Apps:

  • Tailored for a specific mobile operating system like Android or iOS.

  • Deliver superior performance and security.

  • Facilitate easier adherence to Google Play Store or Apple App Store requirements.

  • Tend to be more expensive to develop.

  • Access all advanced native features of the target mobile device.

  • Require recoding in a different language for deployment on a different device ecosystem (e.g., Objective-C or Swift for iOS, Java for Android).

What are the benefits of a Hybrid App?

Some of the significant benefits of hybrid app development include:

  • Cost Efficiency

 The best hybrid app development framework offers cost advantages, requiring less time and resources for development compared to native apps. The single codebase minimizes both initial and maintenance costs.

  • Offline Availability

Hybrid apps leverage native infrastructure, allowing users to access and interact with the application in offline mode. Previously loaded data remains accessible when real-time data is unavailable.

  • Time Savings

Faster build times are a hallmark of hybrid app development. With a unified codebase, the process is streamlined, resulting in quicker app creation.

  • Easier Scalability

Hybrid apps are easily scalable across different platforms. Once built for a specific OS, like Android, they can be efficiently launched on other platforms, such as iOS.

  • Simplified Management

Unlike native apps that necessitate the development and management of two separate applications, hybrid apps simplify the process. With a single codebase, mobile app developers only need to manage one database.

What are the disadvantages of a Hybrid App?

On the flip side hybrid app development has a few disadvantages as well:

  1. User experience

Hybrid apps may face user experience issues due to the challenge of customizing a single codebase for various operating systems. Achieving a seamless experience across platforms can be difficult.

  1. Lower performance

The use of web views in hybrid apps makes it challenging to reach native performance levels. This compromise in performance is a notable drawback.

  1. Availability of features

Certain features may not be universally available across platforms. Some hybrid apps may lack access to new features, while certain native features might be absent altogether.

  1. Errors

Hidden errors can be a concern with hybrid software, impacting the app's functionality and user experience. Uncovering and addressing these errors can be challenging.

  1. Test complexity

Testing hybrid apps is more complex, requiring evaluation on multiple devices and platforms to ensure proper functionality. The presence of shared code across platforms adds to the testing complexity, especially when some components are native and written for specific operating systems.

Best Framework for Hybrid App Development

Most popular Hybrid app development frameworks have their unique advantages and drawbacks. You need to understand their features to choose the best hybrid app development framework

  1. Flutter

Developed by Google, Flutter stands out with its ability to create compiled mobile apps from a single codebase. This cross-platform hybrid app framework offers a unique advantage by providing reactive styles without relying on Javascript. The Flutter app development framework is recognized for building stunning UI designs for cross-platform applications.

  1. React Native 

Ideal for projects using only Javascript, React Native enables the creation of a rich mobile UI through declarative components. Unlike creating a mobile web or hybrid app, React Native produces an app identical to those developed in Java or Objective-C. It utilizes the same UI building blocks as iOS and Android apps, connected through JavaScript and React.

  1. PhoneGap/Cordova

Formerly known as Apache Cordova, PhoneGap is a popular hybrid app framework that leverages web development languages such as HTML, JScript, and CSS. Developers benefit from creating apps without requiring expertise in various hybrid frameworks. PhoneGap simplifies development using standards-based web technologies.

  1. Xamarin

Developed by Microsoft, Xamarin stands out for its use of C#, offering advancements over Java and Objective C. This framework facilitates the creation of hybrid apps for iOS, Android, and Windows operating systems. Xamarin provides a robust solution for developers aiming for cross-platform compatibility.

  1. NativeScript

NativeScript is one of the best frameworks for developers coding their hybrid apps in JavaScript, TypeScript, or Angular. With a runtime bridge module and a JavaScript-based virtual machine, NativeScript ensures a native user experience across different mobile platforms.

  1. Ionic

A well-known framework, Ionic is favored by many developers for its CSS components that suffice for creating native-looking applications. The framework's command-line interface integrates emulators and Cordova-based app packages, offering a comprehensive solution for hybrid mobile app development.

Stages of Hybrid Mobile App Development

  • Pre-Development

The first step before moving ahead into hybrid app development, check whether it's the right fit. Research the ideal technology stack and choose tools like PhoneGap or Ionic for cross-platform app development.

  • Development 

Secondly, write code for your hybrid app using cross-platform tools. Focus on UI/UX design development and functionality. Leverage tools like PhoneGap or Ionic for building hybrid mobile apps.

  • Testing

Thoroughly test your hybrid app prototype before the production release. Conduct front-end and back-end testing to ensure a  seamless user experience.

  • Deployment

Subsequently, deploy your hybrid mobile app on specific platforms. Submit to app stores for Android/iOS or host on web servers.

  • Maintenance

Last but not least, hybrid app development is a continuous process. Adapt your app to business needs, release new versions, and stay ahead by fixing bugs and enhancing functionalities.

How much does Hybrid App Development Cost?

The cost of hybrid app development is influenced by factors such as the app's complexity, features, and design.

Let’s see how much would hybrid mobile applications of different complexity approximately cost:

Cost Breakdown of Hybrid App Development:

  • Simple Hybrid Apps:

  • Features: Limited

  • Development Time: Short

  • Approximate Cost: $10,000

  • Medium-Complex Hybrid Apps:

  • Features: Moderate complexity

  • Development Time: 2-3 months

  • Approximate Cost: $10,000 - $50,000

  • Enterprise Hybrid Apps:

  • Features: Abundant and complex

  • Development Time: 3-6 months

  • Approximate Cost: $50,000 - $150,000

  • Game Hybrid Apps:

  • Features: Highly complex (games)

  • Development Time: Extensive

  • Approximate Cost: Up to $250,000 (or hourly rates starting from $50 per hour)

Understanding the scope of the app and its intended functionalities helps estimate the development time and, consequently, the overall cost.

Partner with DianApps for your Hybrid Mobile App Development Project

Choosing between developing separate mobile apps for each platform and going for hybrid apps depends on various factors such as target audience, development time, and costs. Hybrid apps, which offer benefits like faster time to market, cost-effectiveness, and cross-platform compatibility, are becoming increasingly popular. However, making the right decision calls for careful consideration.

However, to simplify the process and ensure a seamless application development experience, it's crucial to opt for top-notch hybrid app development services. This choice can significantly benefit your business unless your target audience primarily uses a specific mobile platform.

So, you want to take the burden off your head but Finding the perfect dedicated development team seems challenging to you?

Worry not, because DianApps, a reputable mobile app development company, is here to help. We specialize in providing businesses with the world's most expert hybrid app development teams, ensuring that your end-users enjoy excellent value with features like offline access. This not only saves data but also delivers a smooth user experience across multiple operating systems.

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