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Hybrid Web App Development: Ultimate Guide to Understanding

Why do we need hybrid web app development? Learn more about the process, its benefits, and the best frameworks available in the market for its implementation.

Written by RamotionFeb 20, 202314 min read

Application development has become a popular concept in recent years, with a significant increase in the use of various apps. From educational and business tasks to recreational purposes, applications cater to several aspects of digital spaces. As per the statistics published by gamefid.com in August 2022, there are 357 million and 4.567 million apps available on Google and Apple Play Stores, respectively.

In a highly competitive market, each business aims for the development of an app that can stand out among countless available options. It has given rise to the demand for app developers and web app development services. The growing use of applications has led to an increased variety of options, mainly categorized on the basis of the different platforms for which they are designed. While apps are primarily for mobile and websites, a new hybrid web app development classification has become popular in the market.

Mobiles and Websites are the Main Development Mediums for Apps (Pexels)

In this article, we will discuss hybrid app development and its advantages. We will also present a comparative analysis of native and hybrid apps. Toward the end, you will find a detailed analysis of the best hybrid app frameworks available in the market.

Read along to learn more about hybrid app development and how it contributes to creating more effortless and more efficient digital spaces.

Defining Hybrid App Development

Applications are software packages developed for specific functions. They are a standard tool in today’s digital space. Every business focuses on developing apps as they improve their accessibility to the market. Some common types of applications include native apps and web apps. While the former is designed to run on mobile devices, the latter is for web services.

However, here we will focus on the third kind of application, called the hybrid app.

A hybrid app consists of features from both native and web apps. These are cross platform apps that can run on both platforms, mobile, and web. Hybrid applications integrate web apps with features of native apps and can work with multiple operating systems. Thus, bringing you a solution that offers the best of both worlds.

Hybrid App Development (SphereGen)

Written in HTML, JavaScript, and CSS, hybrid development offers some ease to app developers as they are easier to manage and design. Hybrid app development begins with an application code written in a programming language. The single code is then embedded into a native application wrapper which allows it to access native features through several available plugins.

As a result, the web application takes on a native shell around it. It enables the hybrid app to present the platform’s webview component, which it then uses to run its web app. Moreover, with software like Cordova and Capacitor by Ionic, hybrid apps can access multiple features, like TouchID and Bluetooth, of mobile devices using their plugin system.

However, to understand the concept of hybrid apps, let’s compare them to native apps and study the many benefits they have to offer.

Difference between Hybrid App and Native App

Applications have altered the infrastructure of digital space for businesses. Everything can quickly be done online through various apps, ranging from online shopping and playing games to dating and banking. The innovation of apps revolutionized the mobile and web spaces for the general market and companies.

Hybrid Apps vs. Native Apps (Orion InfoSolutions)

Today, organizations spend a considerable amount of resources on developing apps. However, the first step towards app development is understanding the various types of applications. While there are three main kinds of applications, namely web apps, native apps, and hybrid apps, organizations need to understand the difference between them before making a choice.

The applications can primarily be divided into native and web apps. However, hybrid apps are web apps that take on certain native features. Since hybrid applications combine web apps into native applications, these are the two key options for organizations when developing apps.

So let’s take a closer look into how native and hybrid apps differ from each other in certain aspects.

The Basic Difference

The primary difference between native and hybrid apps lies in their development phase, involving the platforms, operating systems, and programming languages used for them, respectively.

Native apps require a separate codebase for each platform, either iOS or Android, and are built using a specific programming language. The native iOS apps are mostly written using Swift or Objective-C language, while the android version uses Java. Each native app is also designed on the basis of the mobile device’s operating system and cannot be used elsewhere.

Programming Languages for Native Apps

On the contrary, hybrid apps rely on a single codebase and are mainly written using HTML5, CSS, and JavaScript. Since these apps are able to run on either platform, iOS or Android, using the same singular code, they are also referred to as cross platform apps. Hybrid apps are web apps hidden in a native application wrapper to take on some features of native apps. Hence, they combine the best features of both native and web apps.

Performance

The performance of each app is highly dependent on its development procedure. Since native development is based on specific operating systems and platforms, the native code tends to fully utilize all the features and functions of the infrastructure in which it is built. It allows greater flexibility and better performance on the specific platforms on which the native apps are based.

Meanwhile, hybrid apps have restricted performance on different platforms and are hindered in their processing on various operating systems. They do work well and produce sound output, but they do not perform as well as native apps. Moreover, as the hybrid app is mainly designed using HTML, it always depends on a webview for the operation, which also restricts its performance.

Time and Cost Investment

The application development process requires both time and cost to create the final product. The investment varies on the basis of the type of app being designed. A native app takes more time and cost to develop. Each platform requires a separate native app that is suitable to the respective operative system of the device. It requires a longer time for native development and also entails more significant financial expenses. Hence, the time and cost investment of native apps are high.

Comparison of Time and Cost Investment between Native and Hybrid Apps

On the other hand, hybrid apps are built using simpler languages and are compatible with multiple operating systems and different platforms. Moreover, the single codebase requires developers to write code only once and then use the app in other places. As a result, the time spent developing multiple apps is reduced, and the financial investment is minimized. Thus, hybrid apps save a lot of time and money for organizations.

Advantages of Hybrid Application Development

The overall structure of businesses has changed significantly since the widespread use of applications. The organizations must ensure an equally effective presence on all platforms of digital communication with potential and existing customers. Hence, there is a need to opt for apps that can function in the best way possible on multiple platforms. It has led to the growing use of hybrid applications in the business world.

However, hybrid apps are not only known for their ability to run on multiple systems but there is a lot more to them. They offer improvements to business operations in several aspects and enhance the overall digital presence.

Advantages of Hybrid App Development

Some of the major advantages of hybrid application development are as follows:

Improved UI/UX Designs

User experience has become a key marker of success in today’s digital world. Hybrid application development is focused on creating a consistent and attractive outlook for apps on multiple platforms, ensuring a unique and effective user experience. The quality of hybrid apps to function similarly effectively on different platforms makes them more versatile to develop and use. Unlike other mobile apps, hybrid apps ensure an overall better UI/UX design due to better operation and appearance on each platform. Moreover, they can also allow organizations to easily interact with apps run on different operating systems, for example, iOS and android.

High-Speed Performance

Hybrid applications have easier running capability and smoother operation on different platforms and devices. Hybrid apps get this high speed and characteristic performance from their lack of dependence on network communication. Hence, the overall running time of the application is reduced, leading to better results. While native and web apps are fast in data processing, hybrid apps are quicker and more responsive than your standard mobile apps or websites. So when it comes to high-speed performance, hybrid applications are the best choice among many app development options.

Improved Creativity

Applications are all about using the available tools and options in the best way possible. With the advent of hybrid apps, creativity in the development process has taken a boost. As hybrid applications allow easy communication with the device’s operating system or built-in environment, they have more space for implementing new ideas. The applications operate in a very elegant manner on the device, creating options for more innovation during the development phase.

Offline Accessibility

Hybrid applications are highly versatile to develop and use. They connect with the device’s operating system and API, which allows them to store important information offline. As a result, the accessibility of the app is not entirely dependent on the internet. Offline access enhances the usability of hybrid apps. Moreover, the feature also enables users to save money on data storage online as apps can retain essential information offline.

Cloud-Support Availability

While offline accessibility is a major characteristic of hybrid applications, they also provide the needed online support. Several frameworks enable these applications to connect to the cloud. The development tools provide the necessary plugins to enhance the usability and connectedness of the apps. In today’s digital space, all hybrid apps are effectively connected with all the leading cloud service providers, including Google Cloud, AWS, and Microsoft Azure.

Cost Efficient

Financial expenses can significantly impact the popularity of an available tool. Cost-effectiveness is another benefit of hybrid applications that have led to their increasing use in the market. Enterprise hybrid mobile apps are a common preference as they enable businesses to enjoy other advantages of hybrid applications at a lower cost. It is possible due to the use of less expensive programming languages, like CSS, JavaScript, and HTML, for the development of hybrid apps. The simpler hybrid app development frameworks are less costly to develop and maintain, making these applications a cost-efficient choice.

Cost Efficiency is an Advantage of Hybrid Apps (Pexels)

As you can see, hybrid application development brings a diverse range of benefits to organizations, each focused on improving the business's overall performance. While these advantages make hybrid apps an essential part of enterprises, they cannot be implemented without the best available frameworks.

Best Hybrid App Frameworks

Framework refers to the basic structure of a system. In this case, we are going to discuss the frameworks that are needed for developing apps. Today we have many enterprise hybrid mobile apps and progressive web apps that require specific tools and experts to build. The main idea is to implement creative ideas to implement user-friendly apps that can be used on different platforms easily.

While several options are available in the market, some frameworks are known for their ease of use and effective results.

Best Hybrid App Frameworks

Below are some of the tools that can be listed as the best hybrid app frameworks.

React Native

Among the many hybrid app frameworks available, React Native is easily the most popular among the community of app developers. It uses JavaScript as its programming language and uses native modules, making it easier for developers to create a familiar native app experience for its users. It has many read-to-use components which ensure a quick development process. React Native also remains the favorite for hybrid app developers because it ensures the bugs are easy to find and provides maximum code reusability. Thus, keeping the app development process simpler and faster. Some of the leading brands, like Facebook and Instagram, use React Native as their hybrid app development framework.

Ionic

Released in 2013, Ionic is one of the most popular open-source frameworks for hybrid app development. It has a vast community of developers and has over five million apps in the market today. Based on CSS, Ionic, and Angular JS, it offers a robust framework that provides ease in developing progressive web apps with creative UI/UX designs. Since it is an open-source platform, the hybrid app framework has extensive documentation and strong support from its community, making it easier for developers to work. Its easy scalability and maintenance make it a good tool for developing cross platform apps. Diesel is a renowned brand that makes use of Ionic as its hybrid app framework.

Flutter

Flutter is a hybrid app development framework created by Google. It has its own programming language, called Dart, which is an integration of Java and Kotlin. However, it is a highly versatile framework as it supports several programming languages and can run on multiple operating systems. It is also known for its single codebase, which supports hybrid apps on both iOS and Android. It is one of the best frameworks for developing apps when it comes to speed and providing real-time updates. It is commonly used by Google Ads and Alibaba.

PhoneGap

Using the Cordova framework, PhoneGap is Adobe's open-source hybrid mobile application development product. It uses JavaScript, HTML5, and CSS as its programming languages. The framework is very easy to use and can work on Windows 7, iOS, and Android platforms. Based on a single code, the framework allows the fast development of hybrid apps. The availability of native modules allows for the easy development of mobile apps.

Xamarin

Among the most popular mobile app development frameworks, Xamarin was owned by Microsoft in 2016. It uses C# programming language for its single codebase, which allows developers to build universal applications. It enables the creation of cross platform apps, ensuring an experience similar to native apps. It has one of the best hardware support that provides a wide range of plugins for developing apps. Some of the leading names using Xamarin include Siemens and Pinterest.

We discussed some of the most popular options among the many hybrid app development frameworks in the market. Each framework has characteristic features that assist hybrid app developers in achieving new levels of innovation.

Applications need an operating system as their platform to run on your device. This software provides a basis for the apps and enables developers to build their designs on them. All electronic devices use a specific operating system, from your computer and mobile devices to tablets. The different options can alter the app development process significantly.

Android

It is one of the most common mobile operating systems. Primarily based on a version of the Linux kernel, the system is sponsored by Google. It officially became accessible to the public in 2008 with its version of Android 1.0. Since then, Google has released several versions of the operating system, with the latest, Android 13, having launched in August 2022. Over the years, the operating system has undergone many updates, optimizations, and interface improvements.

Apple iOS

It is the second most popular mobile operating system in the world that primarily runs on all Apple products, including iPhone, iPad, and others. The system is based on the Apple Macintosh operating system’s tenth version, called OS X. Moreover, Apple also provides an iOS developer kit that assists in the app development process.

Microsoft Windows

It is one of the oldest operating systems which was launched by Microsoft Corporation to be used on personal computers. It was released in 1985 and was the first system to offer navigation of a virtual desktop. The latest version, Windows 11, was introduced to the public in October 2021. The multiple operating systems use different programming languages for app development. While native apps are designed to make use of their specifics, hybrid mobile applications are designed to work with all operating systems with a single common code. The single codebase allows hybrid apps to function as android apps on the Android operating system and function equally well on an iOS system.

Conclusion

The concept of applications has completely revolutionized communication and business tactics in the digital world. The versatility offered by hybrid apps has increased the avenues of innovation in the app development process. While native and web apps hold an important place in the online world, hybrid apps offering the best of both kinds are popular among developers.

Multiple options and ideas are available in the market to begin and explore the app development process. However, the main goal remains to stand out and present a new and unique idea to the market. So, as you wear your developer hat and settle down to design some apps, look through some trending app ideas that can boost your creative juices, and you can create the next masterpiece.

Updated: May 31, 2023