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Cost, Time & UX: Are Hybrid Apps the Future?

We’re living in the mobile-first world, where businesses started shifting their focus from websites to mobile apps. A fast-track without compromises is needed.

We’re living in the mobile-first world, where businesses started shifting their focus from websites to mobile apps to an extent even a street-corner coffee shop tries to use a mobile app to do business with its customers. But their keenness is, not without confusion surrounding the development approach – “Cost, time?”

 

Cost and time relate to the underlying technologies we can't avoid looking at.

 

Web Apps

 

Web apps are compressed websites behind the scenes. Web developers with HTML5, CSS3, Javascript, and a server-side language like PHP skills can develop them compared to developing native apps that require platform-specific expertise, either Apple iOS or Android developers. Web apps run on a device’s browser, Safari, Chrome, or Firefox, and have the user interface that looks native apps. As it’s obvious, the web app developers don’t require adhering to the device’s complicated OS protocols since they are browser dependent rather than OS.

 

Another benefit is an app’s version. Since you access a web app through a device’s browser with no downloading or installing on the devices is needed, apart from an app running on various vendor devices, the version remains the same across all users, as all of them access the same codebase. Undeniably, it gives companies more time to focus on feature enhancements rather than worrying about backward support due to a few users not updating the app on their devices. Meanwhile, it brings another point in favor too; a web app might be the choice for some users with internet bandwidth issues to download native apps, especially on the go while in some regions, it’s expensive too.

 

All these significantly reduce the project budget and help you overcome time constraints; you would otherwise be spending on multiple developer teams, each developing for iOS & Android.

 

Downsides of Web apps? Web apps are slow, less intuitive, inaccessible through app stores, and internet reliant, where if you happen to lose internet connection, your app will be unavailable too. Although Progressive Web Apps (PWS) address this to a certain level, that’s another topic to discuss.

 

Hybrid Apps

 

And, did you know that Twitter, Instagram, and Uber are on hybrid apps too?

 

In effect, hybrid apps, distributed from an app store, are web apps with the ability to give users access to the device features of a native platform such as push, camera, or GPS notifications, makes them combine the goodies of both worlds, native apps, and web apps. To put that in simple terms:

 

  1. Create an app with web technologies HTML5, CSS3 & JavaScript, and access through a browser
  2. Build for the device, iOS, Android & Windows, and have full access to the mobile device’s features such as push, camera, GPS notifications, touchID, camera, Bluetooth, etc.
  3. Distribute the app through an app store.

 

So, the clear advantages are:

 

  • Develop once, then build for the platform (iOS/Android). So, the users with any device, access the app.
  • The simple development process yet has access to the device’s native features. Although there are a few technologies around, and others emerge to favor hybrid apps, this article focuses on using HTML, CSS & JavaScript way, probably a popular one.
  • Distributing the apps through an app store makes your app live on users’ home screens to remind them of it always.
  • Unlike web apps, but like native apps, a hybrid app can work offline with limited functionalities.

 

Those are advantages, true. But it has its disadvantages too. At least the important ones here:

 

  • There is a performance lag compared to native apps that run on the device’s OS directly. Even though this doesn’t make hybrid apps a good contender for high graphics-oriented apps, as mobile processors and browsers get more and more powerful, the gap is closing rapidly too.
  • The appearance of a hybrid app may vary from one platform to the other, if your developer team leans its development and testing efforts on one platform, say iOS, it may lose focus on Android. It will end up having a segment of users compromising on user experience.

 

Why Hybrid Apps?

 

Hybrid apps do address a serious issue the app world is facing today; developing a single app two times by different teams to support two platforms.  The recent emergence of Cross-Platform Frameworks such as Google’s Flutter, React Native, and few others in support of hybrid apps, proves the need to change the trend, "redeveloping apps for multi-platform support."

 

Interestingly, the fact Twitter, Instagram, and Uber choosing hybrid apps, proves that a developer team with a balanced focus on both platforms can deliver high-end hybrid apps without compromising on UI/UX on iOS and Android at the same time.

 

Not least of all, app store resubmission; that’s another edge over their native rivals.  Not all updates to the apps need resubmission when the native part is not affected, saving you days from the app stores approvals.

 

Enter, with a Strategy

 

So, entering mobile-first with a hybrid app is undoubtedly a forward-looking strategy, that guarantees not only multi-platform support without missing out the benefits native apps and web apps have to offer, but also containing the cost and hassles of future updates & maintenance of the app.

 

Getting back to your original question, “Cost, time?” might have found an answer by now.  Luckily, for startups as well as established businesses waiting to adapt to mobile-first trend, have a boon today; ‘app builders!’

 

App Builders to Expedite Entry into Mobile-First World?

 

Imagine, Zappter app builder cuts down your app development costs nearly 90% while relieves you from the timelines – all without your users having to compromise on their experiences. Above all, it’s a product, well-thought-out, and designed for businesses of all sizes, types, complexities, and well-tested UI on all devices. In a few days or even hours, get your app developed for both iOS and Android users, and the builder assists you publish on, App Store and Google Play Store without going through painstaking tasks.

 

What makes Zappter app builder stands out the crowd is, the marketplace with many plugins that you can subscribe anytime to add features & functionalities to your app.