why-hybrid-apps-are-the-future-of-mobile-app-development

Why hybrid apps are the future of mobile app development


Published on: 03 Dec 2021

By Vinod Subbaiah

Introduction

Statista’s predictions show that smartphone users will exceed 7.516 billion globally by 2026, demonstrating the massive demand for mobile applications, which is only estimated to grow further. Therefore, it is imperative to understand the classification of mobile apps before you consider building one.

Mobile apps can broadly be divided into three types- native, web, and hybrid. Native applications are designed to work on one operating system. For example, native Android apps work only on Android platforms. They deliver the best performance among the three but are time-consuming and expensive to develop.

Responsive web apps are easy to build, maintain, and deploy, requiring only a web browser to operate. However, they cannot be found on an app store.

A hybrid app is created by combining the best attributes of its web and native counterparts. They are cross-platform applications that can be developed using a single codebase. Hybrid apps are affordable alternatives to native applications and can be found easily on app stores across all platforms.

Hybrid applications, built using web app technologies like HTML5, CSS, and JavaScript, are wrapped in a native app-like shell that helps them interact seamlessly with the platform. Hybrid mobile app development tends to be popular in the corporate community because of the broader market reach and optimal developmental costs both for initial launch as well as subsequent releases.

Frameworks used for hybrid mobile app development

  1. React Native: React Native is an open-source framework developed by Facebook. It is used widely to create hybrid apps due to its extensive usage of native modules for better performance. React Native is designed to communicate with components specific to a platform, thereby producing codes in native APIs and enhancing a hybrid app’s interaction with the operating system.

    Advantages:

    1. Code reusability: React Native supports a code reusability rate of 90%, thereby reducing the time and cost of production of the application.
    2. Live reloading: Live reloading allows real-time changes to a code without any manual intervention. React Native supports this feature and automatically sends the newly compiled file to the simulator.
  2. Flutter: Flutter is an open-source product from Google and was launched in 2017. It is compatible with multiple platforms and supports real-time updates to the application. Although young compared to some of its competitors, Flutter is used extensively by software firms for hybrid mobile app development.

    Advantages:

    1. Hot reloading: Flutter supports hot reloading, whereby the file that has been modified is updated to reflect the changes. These source code files are then incorporated into the virtual machine in real-time. Here, Flutter automatically redesigns the existing widget tree without any manual support.
    2. Native-like performance: Flutter is known widely for producing cross-platform applications that deliver native app-like performance. Flutter makes this possible since its apps are directly developed into the machine code, thereby surpassing bugs during the interpretation procedure.

Advantages of hybrid mobile applications

  1. Hybrid apps help you capture a wider market with their cross-platform capabilities. Since they are lightweight, work seamlessly on all platforms, and deliver excellent performance, hybrid apps find ready acceptance among end-users.
  1. Hybrid applications support code reusability, reducing testing complexities. Since a hybrid app is built from a single codebase, the infrastructure needed to test an app is also minimal, shortening the QA (Quality Assurance) cycle.
  1. UI/UX can be significantly enhanced in hybrid applications. The user interface is lightweight, making it easy to load graphics and content faster. Hybrid applications are designed to adapt to varying screen sizes, ensuring customer satisfaction.
  1. Hybrid applications do not rely on network communication while loading on a mobile device. This allows them to handle network traffic efficiently. Twitter, a hybrid application, is efficient at handling heavy network traffic round the clock.
  1. Hybrid apps have a robust offline support system. This enables the application to work in areas with unstable internet connectivity, like rural regions or areas of heavy climatic turbulence. Hence, hybrid apps have led to drastic modifications in business strategies, allowing companies across the globe to capture new markets.

Examples of hybrid applications

Firelab

  • The client’s problem: For years, fire safety inspections were done manually with a paper based process. The process was cumbersome, flawed, and time-consuming. The client, a fire safety inspector, identified the limitations of this process, and wanted an app that could make the process more efficient. Two challenges had to be dealt with- the unavailability of Internet or WiFi connectivity in rooftops and basements where fire safety equipment was often installed and the scattered installation of the equipment against which the inspectors were required to fill out approximately 200 data points.
  • Asahi’s solution to the problem: We at Asahi Technologies built a web app and a hybrid app that could be used by the supervising teams, administration teams and the inspecting officers. The hybrid app had multiple features, including an HTML to PDF generator, the Super Signature integration, data caching, and a quick menu. The application revolutionized the industry by increasing inspector efficiency and minimizing error.

IBuyAbilene

  • The client’s problem: The people of Abilene- a small town in Texas, were availing readily available services within the area from vendors outside their neighborhood in nearby cities. This was hurting local businesses on one hand while turning out to be an expensive proposition for the residents of Abilene. The client identified a gap here and wanted an app that would enable the people of Abilene to buy products at a discount from within the town.
  • Asahi’s solution to the problem: We at Asahi Technologies built the hybrid app, IBuyAbilene, to help the town’s locals with this problem. Customers could redeem offers and discounts on the purchased products and rate the local business for better engagement using the application. All residents readily adopted the solution in the community, and the app received recognition from Abilene authorities. The app, therefore, offered a holistic solution to an important problem.

Conclusion

Hybrid mobile apps are efficient alternatives to native and web-based applications. They combine the technologies of both to create a software solution that is lightweight, efficient, easy to maintain and deploy, supports cross-platform compatibility, and is affordable.

Hybrid applications have a broader appeal due to their robust offline support and excellent traffic handling capabilities. We have built many high-impact hybrid apps, two of which are mentioned above. These apps brought about drastic changes in their respective domains. If you are interested in knowing more about a Hybrid mobile app or interested in building one, reach out to us for a complimentary consultation.

Vinod Subbaiah