When planning to build out an app, building a cross-platform app can be a great way to optimize your potential to acquire users. The traditional approach to this demands apps are built for each platform separately, which can lead to a number of issues. Inconsistent functionality, high cost, and platform bias are at the top of this list. One solution to this issue is building a hybrid mobile app.
For those unfamiliar with the concept of hybrid mobile apps, the specification is simple:
Hybrid mobile apps are apps built with Web technologies, and packaged in a native wrapper to run like native apps.
Hybrid mobile apps aren’t a new concept, but they’re become very powerful. Some of the most popular apps use the hybrid approach. For example, Slack, Evernote, and Wikipedia’s apps are built as hybrid mobile apps. You may be using hybrid apps on a daily basis and not know it. This is thanks to advancements in Web technologies, and hybrid app frameworks. Despite this, it’s important to consider the advantages and disadvantages of hybrid mobile apps before building your app as one.
Advantages of Hybrid Mobile Apps
One Codebase, Multiple Platforms
One of the biggest advantages of building a hybrid mobile app is that the app can be built for multiple platforms from one codebase. This makes sure your app works the same across platforms, and eliminates minute differences that can occur when cross-platform native apps are built. In addition, updating your app across several platforms is as simple as updating the universal codebase and building new binaries.
As Web technologies have advanced, the gap between native and hybrid mobile app performance has been closed. In most cases, users won’t be able to tell the difference in performance between a hybrid mobile app and a native app.
In addition, having native apps built out for multiple platforms can be very costly. With the hybrid mobile app approach, these costs are greatly reduced. The reduction of cost often comes in the form of both time and money savings, too.
Disadvantages of Hybrid Mobile Apps
Apps with a large number of target platforms, or looking to complete very specific tasks, may not find API support for all platforms. The more popular hybrid app frameworks may have plugins to account for this. In more complex cases, it may be necessary to develop custom plugins. In the worst case, there may not be a solution to use a specific API for all platforms.
A hybrid mobile app will work in the majority of cases, but some apps are best built with native technologies. Examples of these are graphically-intensive games, as well as some high-performance applications.
Since hybrid mobile apps are packaged in native wrappers, it’s possible that certain fine-tuning may not be possible. Some frameworks attempt to correct for this, but others don’t offer such options.
If you’re curious if your app may be able to be built out as a hybrid mobile app, consulting a reputable developer is a great first step. With a detailed list of your app’s desired functionality, the developer should be able to determine if the hybrid approach is ideal for the project.
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