Hybrid mobile apps: Reach more people, faster and cheaper

Nowadays, it seems most businesses want an app. But where do you begin? And how do you determine which technology will be best to develop your app?

One of the common questions we get asked is: “Which platform should I create my app for?”

As smart phone users are ever increasing and often changing the types of handsets they use, our advice is to develop a hybrid app that can work across multiple platforms. There’s also an advantage, from a development perspective, to build a hybrid app because the code can be easily leveraged, shared across platforms and is quicker and easier to work with.

Here, we share how developing a hybrid mobile app with HTML5 will save your business time and money.

What exactly are hybrid mobile apps?

Hybrid mobile apps developed with HTML5 are cross-platform mobile applications that are built using the holy trinity of web technologies: HTML, CSS and Javascript.

In short, HTML provides the user interface and structure for your app, CSS provides aesthetics and styles to your app, and Javascript makes your app function and allows users to interact.

(As a side note, HTML5 is the common term used to describe modern web development, as it was the 5th release of the HTML specification which brought with it many advanced features that enable hybrid mobile development).

Compared to building native mobile applications, there are pros and cons when choosing hybrid mobile development over native. However, one of the best reasons businesses should look into hybrid app development with HTML5 is that it can save time and money. Doesn’t that sound like the best-kept secret?

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Get to market faster

By using HTML5 technologies, the same code can run on multiple devices, including iPhones, Androids, and Windows phones.

This not only saves time when building the app, but also in testing, maintaining, and adding future additions.

Compared to native app development, which requires a new app be developed for each platform, developing a hybrid app can offer real savings for your business and get your app into the hands of your users faster.

From a production perspective, HTML, CSS and Javascript are arguably the fastest technology “stacks” for developers to work in, meaning there are opportunities to build apps quickly and efficiently. This naturally depends on few factors, including the speed of the individual programmer, however these languages have a long history and some sophisticated frameworks that can be leveraged.

Take advantage of the most popular programming languages

Javascript is the most popular programming language used on earth right now, even more so than all native mobile languages combined. This is not just the case with web developers, as Javascript is also the language of choice for full-stack developers, front-end developers and even back-end developers.

Every programming language has its own specific learning curves but with so many developers already familiar with core web technologies, it’s much easier to enhance existing Javascript, HTML and CSS skills to develop or maintain a hybrid mobile app, than it is to master the languages required for native iOS and Android development (e.g. Objective-C or Swift, and Java, respectively).

With a large ecosystem of passionate and skilled developers, Javascript, along with HTML and CSS, are here for the long run. These are all important factors for a programming language and, with such a strong community behind them, hybrid mobile app development will play a significant role in the coming years.

This means the quality of tools and frameworks can be leveraged by other developers. There is also some great desktop software now being developed in HTML, JS and CSS, and what were once languages reserved for "the web" have now well and truly matured into professional tools in their own right.

RELATED: Not all apps are created equal: Mobile apps vs mobile-optimised web apps

Business Apps Interface

Hybrid apps can cover so much more than just mobile phones

The term “hybrid app” describes software using web technologies, but runs outside a web browser.

At inoutput, we have built software that runs on the iPad, Windows machines and Mac OSX operating systems – sharing up to 95% of the code.

Without leveraging HTML5 technologies this could have taken up to twice as long to develop, but by re-using the code between the applications we’ve been able to deliver great results in a timely fashion and still meet the budget.

By using HTML5 it is also possible to share the code across a mobile app and a web app (a website or program that runs in a web browser). This is a great way to allow people to use your app, via a web browser, without having to download the app from the AppStore or Google Play Store. It can also be a great way to offer a cut-down or "lite" version of your app.

Want to know more about hybrid mobile apps for your business?

Developing cross-device (and cross-platform) software is one of inoutput’s specialties, and we have been actively developing HTML5 hybrid apps for several years.

If you’d like to find out how a hybrid mobile app can work for your business, contact us today