Hybrid application is a software application that integrates both native and web applications. Hybrid applications are actually web applications installed in the native application shell. Once downloaded to the app store and installed locally, the shell is able to connect to any of the capabilities the mobile platform offers with the browser installed in the app. The browser and its plug-ins are running in the background and are not visible to the end user.

Hybrid apps are popular because they allow developers to write mobile app code once and stay on multiple platforms. Because hybrid applications add an extra layer between source code and targeted platform, they can perform slower than traditional or web versions of the same application.

Features of hybrid applications

Hybrid applications features include:

  • Capacity to work whether the device is connected or not.
  • Integration with the mobile device file system. 
  • Integration with web-based services.
  • Embedded browser to enhance access to powerful online content.

How hybrid applications work

Hybrid apps work the same as Web applications but like native apps, they are downloaded to the device. Similar to Web applications, hybrid apps are usually written in HTML, CSS and JavaScript. Hybrid applications apply code inside the container. Device Browser Engine is used to provide HTML and JavaScript and traditional APIs to access device-specific hardware.

Although the hybrid app will share the same roaming features as a Web application, whether the app can work offline depends on its performance. If the app does not require support from the database, then it can be enabled offline.

Hybrid application pros and cons

Pros of hybrid apps include:

     It will work on different platforms.

  • Faster build times compared to native apps..
  • It is cheaper to upgrade compared to building two versions of the traditional app for two different platforms.
  • Easy to present patches and updates.
  • You can work online and offline.

Some cons, however, include:

  • Variability due to development dependence on one platform - for example, if a development team relies on its work on one platform, another supported platform may be poor, or suffer from bugs.
  • The look of the app can vary from stage to platform.
  • The need to test the application on multiple devices to ensure proper operation.
  • The user experience (UX) can collapse if the user interface (UI) is not the same and is designed enough for which browsers the user is unfamiliar with.

  • Hybrid vs. native vs. Web

    Native applications are built specifically on the platform in which they are installed. They can take advantage of the hardware of the mobile device, including the accelerometer, GPS and camera. Indigenous applications are written in the same language as the platform application is written in. So, for example, the traditional iOS app should be written in Objective-C and Swift.

    Web applications are usually written in HTML, JavaScript or HTML. Web applications do not need to be downloaded and are available through the Web browser. Web applications do not have the ability to use the hardware on the selected platform.

    Hybrid applications include both native and Web applications, as it is installed and works in the same way as a traditional app, but has internal Web application functionality.