Hybrid apps vs Web apps

Hybrid apps? Web apps? Wait! we have hybrid apps? Well, if you have been around this web 2.0 era , then you have heard of hybrid apps. If not, don’t worry this article will surely define the basics of both web and hybrid apps and the differences. Stick around 🙂 .

Hybrid apps

I wanted to debate with my boss that the title for this article should have been “Hybrid vs Native apps”, then I recalled that the job description said, “you must be a team player”. Which basically means, “must not question authority ?.” Then the quest began without a question.

Basically Hybrid apps are just a mix of web and native apps .  i.e, They behave and function like native apps, but designed and developed like web apps. We Develop Hybrid apps using the web technologies, HTML, Css and JavaScript. If you have been following my articles, then you have seen my How To Become a web Developer article,  where I have a detailed rundown of the the three basic web technologies.

So how do Hybrid apps run like native apps? Do we need to have them installed? Yes we do install them just like native apps. Apparently you need a wrapper like Cordova or PhoneGap to make the apps run on phone. Frameworks like react native from Facebook are used to build the apps.

Basically, behind the scenes the apps use the native web view of the mobile OS platform to run the apps without the need of browsers like chrome running the code. One of the major plus with Hybrid apps is that you can easily gain access to native app hardware features like the camera, GPS, etc.

Web Apps

After taking a closer look at what I have been building and listening to other developers opinions, it was clear that, web apps are programs running on the browser that are interactive and designed to solve a specific problem. Websites on the other hand are simply a collection of documents that are accessed via the browser, mainly for the purpose of displaying static information.  Websites may contain web apps that make the website more interactive, e.g. the  working of the contact us form.

Web apps now run solely on the browser. For this, you need a browser like chrome or safari to access or use a web app.

Times are changing though, a new dawn has seen the development of Progressive web apps,(PWAs) – lets talk about this later. Just to shed some light on this, PWAs are slowly taking over, they also allow access to native app features like push notifications, instant loading and full screen view. You can say these web apps (PWAs) are taking mobile development by storm.

The difference?

The big difference between the two, is the fact that Web apps need a web browser to run while Hybrid apps are stand alone, run and behave like native apps. In the end they all rely on  web technologies -HTML, CSS , JavaScript- for their development.

Whether to build a web app or Hybrid app depends on your needs and target audience. If you have an existing web app and want to shift to a native app, then you would rather build an hybrid app from your existing web app first, then let the change be gradual to a native app. If you are looking for something faster to build, less deployment requirements and something to reach your market faster, then go for a web app. Web apps are becoming more sophisticated each day with turns of features being added, you may never need to build that native app. Again it all boils down to your needs as a developer or the clients.

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