Hybrid Apps: Closing the Gap with Native Apps

The native versus hybrid mobile app debates continues to bog down businesses and developers and continues to be one of the most tricky questions. Very often while trying to narrow down these options for mobile app development, organizations are forced to select between the cross-platform reach of hybrid apps and raw performance power of native apps. But why does the choice have to be so difficult.

Hybrid apps are written with web technologies such as HTML5, CSS and JavaScript and run on the device. Hybrid apps run inside a native container, and utilize the device’s browser engine to render the HTML and process the JavaScript locally.

Native apps are specific to any particular mobile platform be it iOS or Android using the development tools and language supported by the respective platform (such as Xcode and Objective-C with iOS, Eclipse and Java with Android).

For all those who wondered that why can’t there be a best of both options, the answer is no longer murky. The line between these two choices is getting clearer with every passing day and updates. Hybrid seems to be getting stronger and stronger. The speed and robustness of JavaScript seems to be getting stronger with every successive update to mobile operating systems like iOS and Android. With increasing number of improvements, the hybrid tooling continues to be growing at a phenomenal pace. It is clearly a formidable contender offering solutions ranging from native UI and device APIs to simulators, SDK, to on-device debugging. While Hybrid app development is for real, it simply does not mean that hybrid app is a one-size-fits-all solution for developers. In certain cases, native app might be a feasible option.

Well, if you have decided to opt for hybrid app, just don’t think that you are bound to have a terrific experience compared to native. It is important to understand that hybrid apps are not just about JavaScript and sophisticated tooling. Great hybrid apps are result of collaboration and strategic planning.

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#1 Planning holds key

With hybrid apps, performance begins from the word go. You simply can’t build your app and try to fine tune your app for performance at the very last stage. The result will be a total fiasco. Only meticulous planning can help you develop high-performing hybrid apps that can be mistaken as native apps.

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#2 Performance is directly proportional to design

Remember that UI design elements of your apps directly affects performance. Do you need fancy design elements, shadows, textures, or gradients? While the skeuomorphic look may depict realism, it can be tough to update and expensive to animate. Perhaps this could be the reasons that skeuomorphic look is being abandoned. Or will the latest flat look suffice? Complexity in design can slow down your app and overall performance.

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#3 Stay inspired from native apps

Always stay inspired from native apps and try to decipher how native SDKs unlock problems. Don’t shy away from emulating those tactics in a hybrid mobile app development scenario. Hybrid apps are gaining popularity because they use familiar web technologies. But it is equally important to understand the hybrid apps are not websites scaled to fit on mobile devices. You simply can’t ignore issues that haunt mobile users such as battery life, memory issues, and slow performance while developing hybrid apps.

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#4 Sophisticated tools

While analysis, planning, design, staying inspired from native apps all form a very strong foundation for hybrid apps, one can’t undermine the importance of great hybrid tools. After all, sophisticated hybrid tools help bridge gap between the inbuilt capabilities of the web platform and default native SDKs functionality. Hybrid tools are performance oriented and you can greatly benefit from great native patterns as these tools are built to emulate patterns. These tools come in handy when you are pressed for time and aiming for a stronger cross platform reach.

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#5 Freedom to innovate

With hybrid apps, you can develop cross-platform with a single language stack and experiment with different permutations and combinations of IDEs, frameworks, tools, and services. Possibilities are limitless and you can opt for services that best fit your business needs. You are not confined within the boundaries of any single platform.

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Conclusion: Deciding between native and hybrid requires you to take a stock of your priorities, consider user experience, and level of investment you are willing to make to achieve your business goals. Before you plunge into hybrid app development, analyze the differences and try to bridge the gaps with right tools. Native apps requires heavy investment and is time consuming because of the complexity of languages, designs and structures. Furthermore, you need to write for each mobile platform. Hybrid apps will always enable you to build for more platforms faster. But you need to plan tactically and keep things simple.

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Author Bio:

Carlos Wilson works for MyFirstMobileApp, a leading mobile application development company. He enjoys leveraging emerging mobile technologies to streamline process and eliminate risks. In his spare time, he enjoys blogging on various technical sites.

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