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Hybrid App

In principle, there are three different approaches to the development of modern Apps, namely:

  • native App development
  • hybrid App development
  • Development of Web-Apps

A hybrid App is a combination of the other two types.

Hybrid Apps at a glance

In order to understand what a hybrid App even is, we first need to look at the other two “native” forms. For example, a native App is developed using IDEs and programming languages that are naturally or natively supported by a particular operating system, such as iOS, Android, or Windows. For example, Android supports both Kotlin and Java programming languages, which means that a native Android-App is programmed based on these technologies.

A web-App, on the other hand, is platform-independent and based on open web technologies, such as:

  • HTML
  • CSS
  • Javascript
  • WebAssembly

Web-Applikations can therefore run in all modern web browsers and are not limited to a single platform. However, with a web-App it is obvious to users that they are in one, as no Applikation has to be downloaded from the App store, but the application runs in the browser.

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A Hybrid App represents a combination of the App-types explained in the paragraphs above and should combine the best characteristics from these two development approaches. Hybrid Applikations are based on web technologies like the web-Apps, but are executed in a so-called “container-App” instead of directly in the web browser. This means that web content is packaged in a containerApp, which is then played back on the end device like a native App. This “packaging” into a container gives the Application the possibility to access native functionalities and APIs of the respective operating system without restrictions. For users, the difference between a hybrid or native App is not directly apparent in many cases, as the installation is realized in both cases via the responsible App store.

Advantages and disadvantages of hybrid Apps

Pro
  • In a Hybrid App, a single code base is usually developed and then deployed to the different platforms by using the designated containers. This offers the considerable advantage that a hybrid App can thereby be deployed on different platforms. Such a Application can be developed with significantly less effort than two or more native Applications.
    The advantages mentioned in the paragraph above also result in a significantly lower effort in the maintenance or further development of the Applikation, since all adaptations take place only once in a single code base.
    There are some native functionalities that web-Apps cannot use, such as:

    • Access to the address book
    • Push notifications

    By using hybrid Apps, native functionality can be accessed to provide the user with the best possible user experience (UX).

Contra
  • A major disadvantage that the use of hybrid Apps brings with it is possible performance penalties. A Hybrid App always calls the device's web browser first. During this process, the container in use overlays the browser properties so that the web browser is not apparent to the user. This circumstance means that hybrid Apps must always access the browser as an intermediary, so there may be poorer performance here.

Conclusion

The hybrid development model represents a first-class solution for companies that want to launch a first App with the lowest possible investment and do not want to do without the distribution power of a App store and native functionalities.

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