Hybrid App Development Guide

App Development
Hybrid App Development Guide
Article by Maria Martin
Last Updated: December 01, 2023

Mobile users spend about 90% of their time using apps. This has resulted in an increased demand for apps, especially highly functional, scalable, and cost-effective hybrid solutions.

This article covers everything you need to know about hybrid app development: what it is, how it works, and why it's a smart choice for businesses looking to reach a wider audience without breaking the bank.


What Is Hybrid App Development?

Hybrid app development is the creation of a single app that can run on multiple operating systems, including Windows, Android, and iOS.

In other words, hybrid apps are a combination of both web and native mobile applications. When a software development firm creates hybrid software, they include a single code bar for all platforms. This means they only need to write the code once and then can run it anywhere.

However, this is possible because specific tools make communication between the native platform and web view easier. Thanks to them, hybrid mobile apps can be compiled and transformed into native app.

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How Do Hybrid Apps Work?

Developers build hybrid apps using web technologies such as JavaScript, CSS and HTML. The code is then wrapped within a native application using open-source hybrid app development frameworks, like Ionic or React Native. This allows the app to run through each platform’s embedded browser instead of the web browser, which means they can be installed on mobile devices and submitted to app stores for sale, just like regular native apps.

Plugins will enable them full access to the device's hardware and features, such as GPS, camera, or address book. The wrapper solutions also provide a suite of UI components to create a native interface.

Native apps are built for a singular operating system and leverage mobile devices' unique features and hardware. Developers use only the languages that the specific platform accepts. For instance, Google and Android developers create mobile apps that can be supported only on Android.  Google Maps, Facebook, and LinkedIn are native mobile apps designed dedicatedly for iOS and Android. So, for these apps, the writing of separate codes is required.

In contrast, hybrid apps allow developers to write a single code base that's compatible with multiple operating systems. This is why hybrid app development is an easier and more cost-effective approach to creating mobile apps.

Major global players like Amazon, Nike, Walmart, Etsy, and more have already chosen the hybrid app development model over native. As such, a staggering 74% of the top 50 iOS retail apps in the US are hybrid.

Benefits Of Hybrid App Development

Pros & Cons of Hybrid App Development

Hybrid apps cost less, take less time to create, and are easier to manage than native ones. Other significant benefits of hybrid app development include:

  • Easier scalability. Because hybrid apps use a single codebase, they can be deployed across devices. For example, when you build them for Android, you can quickly launch them on iOS.
  • Single codebase to manage. Unlike native app building, where you have to create two apps, with hybrid software building, you develop only one app, so you only need to manage one database.
  • Faster build time. Since there is one database to manage, it takes less time to make a hybrid than native apps.
  • Low cost of development. Hybrid mobile apps cost less than native apps. Because developers write one set of code, the initial costs and the maintenance costs are low.
  • Offline availability. Hybrid apps will work in an offline mode due to their native infrastructure. Users can still load the application and see the previously loaded data if they can't access real-time data.

However, hybrid app development has a few disadvantages as well:

  • User experience. Considering that there is one codebase for all platforms, the user experience might not be positive. We are talking about different operating systems, so it is difficult to customize an app based on one platform.
  • Lower performance. Hybrid mobile apps load in a web view that is difficult to reach a native performance, and that’s one of their biggest drawbacks.
  • Availability of features. Some new features of the hybrid software are not available for some platforms. What’s more, some native features may not even exist.
  • Errors. Hybrid software can come with hidden errors.
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How Much Does Hybrid App Development Cost?

The cost of hybrid app development is determined by the time necessary to build the app, its functionality, and its design.

Let’s see how much would hybrid mobile apps of different complexity approximately cost:

  • Simple hybrid mobile apps have very few features, and developers can create them in a shorter time. So, they would approximately cost about $10,000.
  • Medium-complex hybrid mobile apps are more complex than simple ones and could cost between $10,000 and $50,000. Companies would need 2-3 months to create them.
  • Enterprise hybrid mobile apps with plenty of features are complex apps that require more time to be developed. They take about 3-6 months to be launched and can cost $50,000 – $150,000.
  • Games are the most difficult apps to create, and hybrid mobile app development companies might charge you up to $250,000. Some of the companies can charge hourly as well, starting from about $50 per hour.

Five Best Examples of Hybrid Apps

The rapid growth of new technologies and the increasing availability of hybrid app frameworks have allowed large companies to create high-performance mobile applications with great interface and functionality.

Take a look at five hybrid mobile apps that are extremely popular among users across the globe:

  1. Example #1: Instagram
  2. Example #2: Uber
  3. Example #3: Gmail
  4. Example #4: Evernote
  5. Example #5: Twitter

Example #1: Instagram

Instagram is the most popular social media app for sharing images and videos. Going hybrid enables the app to support tons of media and offline data. The app permits users to access its features and media, photos, and short videos while also being in the offline mode.

Example #2: Uber

Another great example of hybrid app development in action is the Uber application. With easy navigation and an intuitive user interface, Uber is easily accessible and convenient, which is why this hybrid app is probably the most used ridesharing app in the world.

Example #3: Gmail

Previously built using HTML, Google has upgraded to HTML 5 to provide users with new, advanced features and functionalities, thus enhancing the user experience. This is the perfect example of combining native and web elements to create a high-performance mobile application.

Example #4: Evernote

With a beautiful design and its ability to work flawlessly on different devices, this productivity app stands out for its performance. Something that goes against the premise that hybrid apps are slow and of low performance.

Example #5: Twitter

Twitter is another hybrid app proving that performance is not an issue for this type of app development. The social media application can handle huge amounts of traffic, and it’s accessed by millions of users every day.

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What Are the Most Popular Hybrid App Development Tools?

Here are the best hybrid app development tools and their unique features:

  1. React Native
  2. Flutter
  3. Ionic
  4. Xamarin
  5. PhoneGap

1. React Native

Because it’s based on React and JavaScript and provides native modules, this is the hybrid app framework of choice for developers. It allows them to convert the source code into native elements, thus delivering users a native experience.

2. Flutter

Powered by Google, this platform supports various programming languages and accommodates multiple operating systems. It’s most appreciated for its speed and the many features it provides, such as a rich collection of widgets or real-time updates.

3. Ionic

The most popular tool for creating hybrid apps, Ionic is a free and open-source framework with a large community of developers. It has an extensive set of tools and features, including native UI components and layouts, debugging, testing tools, and more that help developers create interactive mobile apps. Furthermore, this hybrid app framework provides services such as scalability and maintainability.

4. Xamarin

Owned by Microsoft, this cross-platform framework uses C# programming language with the .NET framework. It is compatible with different platforms and provides performance and a user experience similar to native solutions.

5. PhoneGap

Distributed by the Cordova framework, this tool is praised for its ease of use and compatibility with multiple platforms. Developers use popular programming languages like HTML, CSS, and JavaScript to write a single codebase that the framework converts into an app in minutes.

It also offers native plugins for each mobile platform, allowing access to mobile devices' functionality, such as a microphone, camera, compass, and more. This helps developers quickly build a hybrid app, making PhoneGap one of the best frameworks.

How To Choose The Best Hybrid App Development Company

How To Choose the Best Hybrid App Development Company for You

You should consider many factors when finding the best hybrid app development company for your business needs. Here are the most important ones:

  1. Expertise
  2. Location
  3. Cost
  4. Post-Launch Services
  5. Level of Involvement

1. Expertise

It is essential for hybrid mobile app developers to have certifications and technical experience. To fulfill all the tasks connected to the building of your app, these people need to have knowledge of hybrid mobile app development. By hiring experts, you can ensure that the process of app building goes the best way possible.

2. Location

Does the location matter to you? Would you like to work closely with the hybrid app developers? Or, are you comfortable hiring a reliable outsourced team? Consider these questions since they may play a major role in deciding which hybrid app development firm is the best for you.

3. Cost

The cost of the app is another crucial aspect to look at. Not all hybrid app developers charge the same. That’s why you need to determine how much you are able to spend. Set a budget and ask potential candidates for a price estimate. However, also think about whether you want to save money or spend a higher upfront cost which will bring you a higher ROI.

4. Post-Launch Services

Just because the app is live doesn’t mean that the developer’s work is done. Apps need to be maintained and updated continuously. Therefore, you need to make sure that the hybrid app developers will be there for future service and consultation.

5. Level of Involvement

Hybrid mobile app development companies are going to build an app for you. So, it is obvious that you need to be involved in the whole process. However, what you probably don’t know is the level of involvement they will require. That’s why you should figure out this aspect in advance.

Once you collect all the necessary info about all the potential hybrid app development companies, make a selection and choose the best one for your mobile app needs.

Takeaways on Hybrid App Development

Aside from the convenience of operating on any platform or device, hybrid apps are simple to create and download. They can also give a native-like user experience because they combine native elements.

As a result, hybrid software is more popular than ever before. It enables marketers to launch a single app across different mobile devices, allowing them to reach their target audience while saving time and money effortlessly. This is also why, if you want to go the hybrid way and create this type of mobile app, there are several hybrid app developers to pick from.

Hybrid App Development FAQs

1. Why is a hybrid app different from a native?

While native apps are created for a single operating system – whether iOS or Android – hybrid apps are designed to run across several operating systems and use the same codebase.

2. Which language is best for hybrid app development?

Hybrid apps are usually developed in JavaScript, HTML, or CSS programming languages.

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