Hybrid App Development

So there have been mutterings in the developer world lately that hybrid apps are the way of the future as they offer a faster and more flexible approach to multi-platform mobile app development. Who am I kidding here, they are screaming this from the rooftops.

So what are the different types of apps, you ask? Well currently there is Native, HTML5 and Hybrid. Native is your standard iOS app built with Objective-C/Swift or an Android equivalent built with Java. HTML5 apps are composed of HTML, CSS and JavaScript either served through a browser (i.e. a mobile optimised website) or packaged up and distributed through an app store just like native apps. HTML5 apps don’t have access to any of the native device features such as the camera, accelerometer, flashlight and other features. Hybrid apps on the other hand are quite similar to HTML5 apps but with the added bonus of access to native APIs. This is achieved with the use of either the Cordova or PhoneGap platforms and this is what’s getting people excited.

Native HTML5 and Hybrid Apps

An illustration of the various types of apps and corresponding capabilities.

The rise of Hybrid app development means that developers with experience in common web technologies (HTML, CSS and JavaScript) can now build highly advanced apps for distribution on all major platforms. You no longer need to be a specialist in Objective-C or Java. This is good. It means the cost of building applications will drop significantly, the speed of iteration will increase and developers won’t be forced into specialising in native app development. They can easily juggle building websites and apps of varying capabilities.

So what’s my interest in all of this? Well I recently got involved in building a hybrid app for a client (check out the projects section of my main site). We used¬†Ionic¬†which is a front-end framework built on top of Cordova. All I can say is, I was blown away. I have been thinking of getting up to speed with Swift for some time but having worked with Ionic, I just don’t see the point. Hybrid is the future! In my next post I’m going to talk specifically about Ionic, so stay tuned and hit me up on Twitter for any further discussion.