4 Reasons Your App Should Take the Hybrid Route

By | 2016-11-04T16:57:24+00:00 January 28, 2015|Technology, Viewpoints|

Often echoed in the programming world, the mantra “the right tool for the right job” asks us to evaluate the efficiencies and value of the technologies that we choose to leverage when developing a digital solution. During the discovery phase for a mobile or tablet application, the digital team weighs whether or not the app should be native or hybrid. To clarify, native applications are developed using code that is specific to that device’s platform. For instance, Objective-C is the native language for iOS devices and Java is the language for Android.

Hybrid applications are essentially web applications that run on a device’s native browser. These applications are developed with HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, and then, using a platform like Cordova, the code is wrapped into a deployable native application. Historically, the biggest argument against using hybrid was performance however this has greatly improved over time and many frameworks now enable hybrid apps to perform much more like a native app.

Analyst firm Gartner predicts that by 2016, 50% of mobile apps in the B2B space will be using hybrid technologies. With recent advancements in web technologies, design and user experience of hybrid apps are almost as seamless if developed with native code. Examples of hybrid apps include Instagram, Twitter, Yelp, Evernote, and HealthTap. Facebook and LinkedIn started out as hybrid apps, but eventually made the decision to go native.

While plenty of arguments can be made about the pros and cons of native vs hybrid when it comes to building an app, the case for choosing the hybrid route is growing stronger all the time. Here are 4 distinct reasons:

1. Reusability
Going the hybrid route allows for multidevice coverage. In other words, a singular code base can essentially be used for several different devices. The collective cost of highly specialized native programmers for various devices is replaced by employing a team of affordable front-end programmers who leverage the power of evolving web browsers.  This code base can also be retrofitted, if not recruited, from a preexisting web application.

2. Cost-effectiveness
Tremendous cost-savings exist making inevitable updates or content and functionality edits to just one code base. In addition, staffing is made easier as the pool of HTML/CSS and JavaScript developers is much larger. For instance, an in-house front-end programmer can easily make edits to content within the application should the need arise—and like most digital projects—it always does.

3. Speed-to-market
Hybrid apps built with HTML, CSS, and JavaScript technologies and singular code base multi-purposed across several devices allows for a speedy deployment, thus fulfilling a client promise of speed-to-market. Making edits and implementing additional functionality to a singular code base will also allow for quick future updates.

4. Minimal viable product (MVP)/Prototyping
When working with a bootstrapped budget or a less-than-clear idea of the target audience needs, the hybrid route offers a less expensive and much more flexible method of producing an MVP or prototype to test market an app and its functionality. As testing progresses, making edits and adding in functionality as the app grows is a much less painful process because the code base is shared across devices.

In the larger picture of mobile app development, options must be weighed carefully because of various factors. It is especially necessary to examine how much of the device’s functionality will be utilized and, to some degree, the user experience of the interface. Nowadays, however, in many cases it is often agreed that the benefits that come from developing a hybrid app may far outweigh programming with the native languages simply for the sake of going native.

About the Author:

Sara Allen
Dir., Development & Creative Technology

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