Hybrid mobile apps: the future of app development?

February 5, 2013, 1:22 AM PST

Takeaway: Hybrid apps may be the norm, not the exception, within a few years as companies try to cut the cost of app deployment across multiple platforms.

With the recent explosion in tablet and smartphone sales and growth of BYOD the modern business can’t ignore the need to provide mobile apps for staff and customers that run across multiple platforms.

The challenge of building an app with the right mix of features, performance and platform support at an affordable cost requires firms to decide between whether to build a native, web and hybrid app.

Each approach – coding an app in a platform’s native programming language, building a web app or a mix between the two, a hybrid app – has advantages and disadvantages.

As companies look to strike a balance between features, performance and cost, many will turn to hybrid apps, according to analyst house Gartner, which says more than half of mobile apps deployed by enterprise by 2016 will be hybrid. If correct it would mark a departure from the way apps are developed today: only six per cent of mobile apps were being developed using HTML5, according to a survey of 3,600 developers by Appcelerator and IDC last year.

Broadly, when compared to web apps, native apps are considered to have better performance, access to a broader range of platform specific features such as GPS or camera and better looking and more responsive UI.

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