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Improving Mobile Application Development with Hybrid Application Frameworks

Gurjit Singh Butalia
9 Mar 2023

Native apps are created explicitly for one platform, in the programming language directly supported by a particular device, and can take full advantage of that device’s capabilities. Web apps, on the other hand, resemble native apps but are, in fact, mobile-optimized websites.

Hybrid apps are a mixture of native and web technologies. A hybrid approach to application development will consider both native and web capabilities to provide an optimal, cost-effective solution for cross-platform compatibility. As such, hybrid application frameworks offer a number of benefits to mobile application development projects, allowing project teams to save time, reduce costs, and take advantage of web programming expertise.  

Comparing native and hybrid mobile applications

Native mobile apps are developed with consideration of a specific mobile operating system. For example, engineering teams use the Kotlin programming language – which interoperates with Java – for developing apps for Android devices, while Swift and Objective-C are used to develop apps for iOS devices.

There are many features specific to the device hardware, such as GPS, camera, and fingerprint recognition which, when used directly by native apps, deliver fast performance and are very reliable. However, the development cost is high because each supported platform requires a separate mobile app to be developed.

Hybrid applications, however, are typically written in HTML5 and JavaScript, or with the help of cross-platform frameworks like React Native, Ionic, Flutter, and Xamarin, and are developed with features available in both native and web apps. Web apps can be wrapped in a mobile app, for instance, and hybrid apps can leverage built-in device capabilities.

Available both in each platform’s respective store, or as progressive web app solutions, hybrid apps are generally used to reduce time to market for an application on various platforms with responsive design. And, as apps developed for Android and iOS share the same codebase, hybrid apps require less maintenance than their native counterparts. That said, since hybrid applications run inside the mobile app shell, they won’t perform as quickly as native apps.

Choosing the right development framework

A team’s choice of mobile development framework will depend on the type and complexity of the app they’re building.

Here, then, are a few suggestions for deciding whether to use a native or hybrid development framework:

  • Customer-facing applications, such as for ecommerce, can be expected to be complex with a long lifetime. They’ll need to target the two leading platforms – iOS and Android – and will need to perform as well as possible to receive positive ratings in the app stores.
  • Apps developed for internal use, such as audit tools, are also expected to be long-lived. They’ll be complex in term of business logic, but they may not require the immediate support of new OS features.

Other apps might have a device strategy that dictates that they’re only developed on a single platform. For example:

  • Some event apps may only be used during the lifetime of the event, meaning they have a very short duration. Since they’re aimed at consumers, they need to be on both Android and iOS, and can be developed through suitable hybrid frameworks for rapid development and used for a short period.
  • A native framework is recommended for building complex mobile applications with a long set of dependencies, such as games, which require animation, or health apps that interact with sensors in real time.
  • A native stack is also recommended for building consumer-facing applications with a long lifetime. Teams can experiment by building partial features in cross-platform tools. LinkedIn and Facebook, for example, have been experimenting with React Native.

In summary, engineering teams can choose native deployment when they need to define a clear upgrade path, support features of new OS releases, and achieve the highest possible performance. Cross-platform, hybrid frameworks can be selected when the solution has a reasonable level of complexity, code reusability, low staffing requirements, and an aggressive time to market.

A simple solution

Applications created on a native platform can provide a good user experience, and are a better choice when an app has low latency use cases, and requires support for the latest OS features, such as upgrades, migration, and security.

The value of hybrid applications, however, is that they help developers write the code once and deploy it to different platforms, allowing them to launch their mobile applications quickly and reduce maintenance costs.

As such, a hybrid approach offers a simple solution when faced with time-to-market constraints, a small budget, or a lack of native app development experience. There are various hybrid frameworks available that teams can adapt, based on their experience. Indeed, they have become increasingly essential in today’s rapidly changing environment, where companies need to innovate quickly, and when there is a lack of resources and expertise in native app development.


Gurjit Singh Butalia

Senior Architect, Software and Digital, Capgemini Engineering
Gurjit has over 24 years of experience in embedded, web, and mobile applications, DevOps, and AWS cloud architecture and development. He has worked in pre-sales consulting and as a solution architect in the software and digital team.