Hybrid Apps - Totally Legit or Lame Workaround?

I’ve mostly been working in the front end space on the web and now want to create an interactive web design that combines an app.

To learn Java and Objective C could take months. Even though I’m sure it would benefit me in the long run, I’m curious about how credible hybrid Apps actually are. Can they be taken seriously and be used just like a native app, or are they simply a fad?

With my front end background I feel that I would be much more comfortable working on a hybrid app. I just have a few concerns…

  • Can hybrid apps work on both iphone and android phones?
  • Where are the best resources to learn more/make hybrid apps for beginners?
  • Are Hybrid Apps here to stay for the long run?

I would really appreciate your personal opinions/resources on hybrid apps, thanks!

First, let’s clarify our terms.

a. Native apps are created in the target device’s language; in iOS that would be Objective-C, for instance. This is what you want to avoid.
b. Web apps, on the other end of the spectrum, can be downloaded directly from web sites and will work on virtually any device, since they are simply web sites geared to the small screen.
c. Hybrid apps are frequently coded in HTML, CSS, and Javascript (and sometimes in other languages), and use a wrapper such as PhoneGap Cordova to interface with the device’s features, such as camera. If your app will use the device’s features, then you fall in this category. If not, perhaps it’s a web app. It depends on how interactive you mean to make it.

I use PhoneGap Cordova to make apps that work in iOS and Android. To answer your questions from that perspective:

  1. Hybrid apps will work on both devices, assuming you are hooking into features both devices possess, like a camera.

  2. You may find this chart helpful to decide which framework to start learning: http://wiki.phonegap.com/w/page/36767911/UI%20Development%20on%20PhoneGap
    Once you decide which way to go, then start with the “Hello World” steps for that software. In almost all cases, you’ll build your app with HTML, CSS, and Javascript to start with, using standard web compliance, then add the plugins as needed to hook up your code to the device’s features.

  3. They are here to stay! I’m amazed at the number of new services that have hit the web for making apps easier than ever, even with online drag-and-drop ease (with room for extensive modification if you know Java or Javascript).

I compiled a list of categorized links on one page to help me keep track of everything. Feel free to check it out:


First question why you want to create an installable app as opposed to a web app.
There’s only 3 good reasons for native I can think of (access to app stores, access to device hardware, speed if you’re creating a game or similar)

Web apps have far more benefits, easier to develop, deployable any time, low cost, future proofed, huge user base etc…

PhoneGap is totally legit, the wrapper gets a bad wrap.
Web apps are here to stay, because you can write once and deploy anywhere.

Well, it is better to write it in the native language for each platform. But as you say, it will benefit you, but will take a lot longer. Having said that, a platform framework could work quite well, and they are legit. Draw something for example was built using marmalde, and it is a brilliant example. It works well on all platforms from Android phones to tablets to iPhone and iPad. And it has lots of animations, etc. They were making $250,000 a day from the app untill they sold it to Zynga for $200 million. So, it just goes to show what those cross platform tools can do.