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What is a Hybrid App?

A hybrid mobile application development looks appealing to an organization. Why hire a developer for each platform when you can hire one developer and target all of them through HTML, CSS, and JavaScript? In this article, I will give an introduction to hybrid web apps along with some examples of a Hybrid application.

What is a Hybrid Application?

Hybrid mobile apps are applications that are installed on a device, just like any other app. Hybrid apps are built with a combination of HTML, CSS, and Javascript. Hybrid apps are part native app, part web app. Like native apps, they live in an app store and can take advantage of some device features available. Like web apps, they rely on HTML being rendered in a browser, with the caveat that the browser is embedded within the app.

Hybrid apps are deployed in a native container that uses a mobile WebView object. When the app is used, this object displays web content thanks to the use of web technologies (CSS, JavaScript, HTML, HTML5).

It is in fact displaying web pages from a desktop website that are adapted to a WebView display. The web content can either be displayed as soon as the app is opened or for certain parts of the app only i.e. for the purchase funnel.

In order to access a device's hardware features (accelerometer, camera, contacts…) for which the native apps are installed, it is possible to include native elements of each platform’s user interfaces (iOS, Android): native code will be used to access the specific features in order to create a seamless user experience. Hybrid apps can also rely on platforms that offer JavaScript APIs if those functionalities are called within a WebView.

Hybrid Application Examples

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How to check app type

We can write our hybrid apps using HTML, CSS, and JS and wrap it in a wrapper (android/ios), sometimes using Phonegap. Writing a Phonegap app with HTML and JavaScript gives you the ability to deploy it to any mobile device without losing features of a native app.

Adobe PhoneGap is a standards-based, open-source development framework for building cross-platform mobile apps with HTML, CSS and JavaScript for iOS, Android™ and Windows® Phone 8.

Is there a way to identify through jQuery or plain javascript, whether the loaded thing is a Hybrid App or a Mobile app?
When you make a hybrid app, the HTML files loaded into a web view has a file:/// protocol and for a hosted application it is http or https. So you can check whether the app is by the following:

window.location.href.indexOf('http') === 0 ? 'web' : 'hybrid'


function isApp() {

var app = document.URL.indexOf('http://') === -1 && document.URL.indexOf('https://') === -1;
  if (app) {
      // PhoneGap application
      //alert("U're using cordova");
      return true;
  } else {
      //alert("U're using browser");
      return false;

Hybrid Application Benefits

Often, companies build hybrid apps as wrappers for an existing web page; in that way, they hope to get a presence in the app store, without spending significant effort for developing a different app. Hybrid apps are also popular because they allow cross-platform development and thus significantly reduce development costs: that is, the same HTML code components can be reused on different mobile operating systems.

Hybrid apps offer a certain number of advantages:

  • Combining user experience with an agile development cycle and controlled costs

  • Reusing the code of the web app part: the code is written once and deployed across all mobile platforms.

  • Reducing development time and costs: the code is written once, which substantially reduces development time and costs compared to native apps which require development for iOS and development for Android.

  • Avoid the limitations of the Apple App Store

  • Finding resources: most applications have an iOS version and an Android version. They are thus developed using the corresponding programming language: Objective-C or Swift for iOS, Java for Android. Hybrid apps allow for the use of programming languages used frequently by web developers (HTML, JavaScript, and CSS) who can thus reuse their knowledge. This makes finding resources to build a hybrid app easier.


Top comments (2)

gregoryandersen profile image

An interesting approach to define what is hybrid app is also to differ it from native. Here's an excellent comparing of native vs hybrid app

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