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What Are Hybrid Apps and when Does It Make Sense to Use them?

Hybrid Apps: special characteristics and areas of application

Hybrid apps are considered a special form among applications. They enable platform-independent development and subsequent use of the application. In this blog post you will learn what is meant by a hybrid app, what strengths and weaknesses it has and in which cases its use is advisable.

What are the specific characteristics of hybrid apps?

Hybrid apps can be understood as a mixture of native and web apps. To a certain extent, they combine the advantages of both worlds. The most important feature of such applications is their platform independence. This property is sometimes also referred to as cross-platform – develop once, run everywhere. Regardless of which web browser or which mobile device the application is to be used with after completion, the same source code serves as the basis each time. Whether a smartphone or tablet is based on Android or iOS, for example, makes no difference in this case.

Various applications are available for creating the apps. Popular development platforms include Cordova, Adobe's PhoneGap, which is based on it, and the Ionic framework. The code is created in web technologies such as JavaScript, HTML or CSS. This procedure also allows access to the hardware of the respective device - for example to the camera of a smartphone. Hybrid apps run within a native web browser, with the respective framework suppressing all browser controls such as the menu bar. This happens in the background and is not visible to the user.

The main advantages and disadvantages of hybrid apps

From the customer's point of view, hybrid apps offer several advantages. Since an extra app version does not have to be created for every platform, the development time and thus the price are significantly lower compared to a native app. Lower maintenance costs can also be expected. The use of hybrid apps also makes it much easier to keep the user interface the same across different platforms.

However, there are also some disadvantages. Since hybrid apps always communicate via the browser, they cannot usually use all the specific functions of the respective device or operating system. In addition, hybrid applications require a little more memory, which leads to longer loading times. In addition, performance problems occur, especially in computing-intensive applications such as games with complex graphics.

Why does it make sense to go for a hybrid app?

The most powerful arguments for hybrid apps are the comparatively low development effort and the correspondingly significantly lower costs. The areas of application are primarily in the areas of mobile business, mobile marketing and customer care (CRM). In practice, such an application maps a company portfolio, for example, or ensures the exchange of data between employees. Another example is an online shop that uses push messages to draw attention to special offers and wants to reach a large number of customers. For complex applications, on the other hand, a native app is recommended, as it performs better.