If you are considering building an application for your workforce, target audience or both, hybrid apps can provide the tools and resources that your users desire, such as fast access to human resources information, customer profiles and intracompany communication channels. While native apps and mobile websites can also help you reach your intended audience, hybrid applications can provide unique advantages.
However, every type of app has both its advantages and disadvantages. The following list of pros and cons of building a hybrid app can help you better understand if this is right for you in order to make informed, effective decisions.
Pro: Saved Time and Money
While native apps will need to be programmed for each operating system they are featured on, hybrid apps have a one-for-all build. The result is less time and money spent developing multiple versions of the same application, as what is built will be suited for all devices when programmed correctly.
According to Hacker Noon, the cost of developing a hybrid app is consistently less than native app development for companies of all sizes. This ranges from a $10,000 difference for small minimum viable products to a nearly $100,000 difference for large enterprise applications. While more aspects than cost alone will need to be taken into account when deciding on app development, this may play a crucial role in a company’s decision.
Con: Potential Lagging
Because a hybrid app is run on many different operating systems, it is possible that complications caused by interfacing with these different systems can cause lag. While this is not necessarily the case for all apps and depends on how each one is programmed, developers will need to take the potential for lag into account while designing the application.
In order to account for and counteract the potential for lag, developers can decrease the frame rate that the app normally runs at, with Venture Beat advising that between 30 and 40 frames per second being less likely to encounter noticeable slowdown while also still being pleasing to the eye of users. UI can also have a large impact on hybrid app performance. While complex CSS can make your app really stand out, features like animation can be both costly and heavy on performance. Consider a visually pleasing layout that is less complex while still adhering to the style you would like in order to strike a balance between performance and appearance.
Pro: Online and Offline Access
If you are considering only having a website and no app, you may be unable to reach a target audience that must operate without internet service at times. Developers have the option of packaging a hybrid application locally or through a server. As such, hybrid applications can be accessed both online and offline.
Determine if offline capabilities will be necessary for your hybrid app by employing the use of beta testers prior to launch, who can provide real world insights that may not have been found during initial development. While it may be tempting to get your app out to the public as soon as possible in order to start seeing returns on your investment, a successful launch will have a greater positive impact than a fast launch with many issues.
After launch, the use of in-app analytics will help provide feedback regarding usage, potential issues and user retention. This can signal where you need to improve, as well as whether a significant segment of your audience is attempting to use your application offline and running into issues as a result. As discussed by Apptamin, cohort analysis can help you understand shifts in your user base in order to determine just exactly who is using your app the most and whether offline access is needed in order to meet their demands.
Con: Variations Caused by Devices and Operating Systems
Lagging is not the only effect that the wide variety of systems and devices could have on a hybrid app. The appearance of your app can vary from user to user, depending on the version of the software they are using and the type of device displaying your app. As such, your app may not always look the way you intended and you will need to test it on a wide variety of possible operating systems and devices in order to optimize it for the broadest audience possible. In doing so, you can create a design that has fewer incompatible features or experiences known complications when being displayed on certain operating systems.
Studies show that 79% of consumers will retry a mobile application only once or twice should it fail upon the first try. As such, it is important to ensure your app will work as consistently as possible to avoid immediate abandonment, which may be complicated by how a hybrid app could perform based on device.
Pro: Effective Updates
After development, updates will be needed in order to keep applications running smoothly and to eliminate bugs that may be negatively affecting user experience. Like the development process, updates will be able to affect the application across all operating systems, resulting in a higher return on investment for the update process.
Y Media Labs points out several reasons why hybrid app updates can be so effective. This includes having a single code base for multiple platforms, not needing to bring in additional employees to supplement your current web team for development, the ability to avoid API development and not needing to submit each version of the application to an app store for approval.
Making the Right Choice for Your Business
The balance between advantages and disadvantages concerning a hybrid app will often come down to the individual nature of your business and industry. When considering the creation of a hybrid app, use company surveys and analytics to determine how the previously listed pros and cons of a hybrid app may apply to you. In addition to the creation of hybrid apps, brands can also consider cross-platform solutions, which do not necessarily use web technologies. These solutions produce native apps, but from one code base only.