What is a Native App?

A native app is a smartphone application developed specifically for a mobile operating system (think Java for Android development and Objective-C or Swift for iOS). Since the app gets developed within a mature ecosystem following the technical and user experience guidelines of the OS, it not only has the advantage of faster performance but also “feels right.” Feeling right means that the in-app interaction has a look and feel consistent with most of the other native apps on the device.

What is a Hybrid App?

Hybrid applications are apps packaged in a native wrapper. They look and feel like a native app, but ultimately outside of the basic frame of the application. It is built using HTML5 and JavaScript, wrapped in a native container. Developing Hybrid App is a popular freelance work as well.

How are Hybrid Mobile Apps built?

Hybrid mobile app development is similar to websites. Both of them use a combination of different technologies like HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. The main difference is, instead of targeting a mobile browser, hybrid applications target a WebView hosted inside a native container. It enables them to do things like access hardware capabilities of the mobile device.

Top 10 Hybrid Mobile App Development Frameworks of 2017:

  1. React Native:

    React Native is focused solely on building a mobile UI. Compared with JavaScript frameworks like AngularJS or MeteorJS, React Native is UI-focused, making it more like a JavaScript library than a framework. The resulting UI is highly responsive and feels fluid thanks to asynchronous JavaScript interactions with the native environment. This means the app will have quicker load times than a typical hybrid app, and a smoother feel.

    The main purpose of this framework is to build native apps, instead of developing hybrid apps which run in a web-view. However, the development is still completely done via React and JavaScript. This framework is not customized towards beginners in website development, but its huge community will help you in every part of the way. The latest version of this framework also have support for Android, so now you can also have real cross-platform apps.

  2. Ionic:

    Over the last couple of years, ionic has established itself as leader in the hybrid mobile apps development space. Ionic team keeps the framework updated by adapting to the latest trends, ahead of the competitors. Its closest competitors sell commercially while Ionic is free to use and open source, moreover, its ecosystem has grown so huge that you can easily find tons of development resources from the community to get started within no time.

    Recently, ionic folks upgraded the framework by adding out of the box support for material design. Under the hood, ionic is wrapping Angular framework and that is what gives this framework most of the hidden superpowers. Like most of the other hybrid app frameworks, Ionic also utilizes Cordova to go native for iOS, Android, windows phone and other platforms.

    Ionic framework is maintainable and scalable, uses clean and easy to read markup, comes packed with highly mobile-optimized library of CSS (Powered by Sass), HTML and js components. It also features tools and gestures to ensure interactive apps development with ease.

  3. Onsen UI:

    Onsen UI is relatively new but giving a tough competition to Ionic. It is open source and available under Apache license. Onsen UI also utilizes Angular directives and Topcoat framework for most of its UI components.

    For jQuery fans, it comes packed with jQuery based components. One can choose not to use Angular in favor of jquery to build hybrid apps. Onsen UI features a large collection of ready to use components, responsive out of the box that allows you to build mobile, tablet as well as desktop versions of your apps, Allows you to write apps in HTML5 and JavaScript and push through Phonegap & Cordova to go native.

    I am personally very impressed with the ease of use, flexibility, semantic markup and performance that Onsen UI brings on table. Onsen UI like Ionic is open source and free to use, read more about Onsen UI at – onsen.io.

  4. Intel XDK:

    Intel XDK is the new kid on the block and a little different from the rest of the pack, it includes the complete range of tools that support development, emulation, and testing as well as debugging and publishing cross platform HTM5 hybrid apps. Intel XDK packs basic ready to use app templates built using “app framework”.

    App framework is open source JavaScript framework supported by Intel. App framework themes support iPhone, iPad, Tizen, Windows phone, Blackberry and Android look and feel. Apart from app framework, Intel XDK supports jQuery mobile, Bootstrap 3 and Topcoat UI framework.

    Due to the clean development workflow and rich feature set, Intel XDK is fast becoming a preferred choice among developers for building cross platform hybrid mobile apps. Intel XDK can be installed on Windows, OSX and Linux and it allows you to build apps for any platform on any platform, of course.

    With Intel XDK, You can build apps for iOS, Windows Phone, Android, Tizen and Firefox OS as well as Amazon, Facebook and Chrome web apps. Intel XDK looks quite promising and might be the game changer in hybrid mobile app development space.

  5. Sencha Touch: 

    Sencha Touch is an enterprise grade product for building cross platform end to end mobile web apps with HTML5 and JavaScript. You can call it as the big daddy of mobile application development platforms in the commercial space, mostly enterprises. Sencha has a wide range of products that work hand to hand with Sencha Touch, most of these products carry heavy price tag.

    For individual developers and freelances, ionic would make a better choice but for Enterprises, Sencha Touch easily leads the way.

    ExtJS, one of the most popular JavaScript frameworks is at the core of Sencha touch platform which helps create high performance apps with near native experience. Sencha Touch packs ready to use widgets with native look and feel for all leading platforms including iOS, android, Windows Phone and Blackberry. Sencha also features a drag and drop HTML5 visual application builder with tons of ready to use templates. Custom components can also be built and added to the library for reuse across apps.

  6. Kendo UI:

    Kendo UI is another framework for building any kind of web app or hybrid mobile app with HTML5, JavaScript and CSS. It relies heavily on jQuery and comes packed with 70+ ready to use jQuery widgets. Kendo UI allows integration with Angular as well and supports Bootstrap UI framework.Kendo UI also packs built in ready to use themes including themes featuring material design look and feel. There is a theme builder available as well for creating custom themes, which is one of the biggest advantages of Kendo UI framework.Kendo UI is maintained and supported by Telerik and comes with open source as well as commercial licensing options. Open source of course is slightly limited in terms of features and you do not get dedicated technical support.

    Like Sencha, Kendo UI is also very popular among enterprises. It has a huge customer base including companies like Sony, Nasa, Microsoft, Volvo and Toshiba. You can read more about Kendo UI framework at its official website – telerik.com/kendo-ui.

  7. Framework 7:

    Framework 7 leads the race among hybrid app frameworks in iOS mobile apps development space. It is not an apple to apple comparison between Framework 7 and other frameworks like Ionic and Onsen UI since Framework 7 doesn’t provide support for building cross platform hybrid apps. But it definitely is the finest and most feature rich framework for iOS hybrid apps development.

    The main advantage of Framework 7 is that it empowers developers to build iOS apps with just CSS, JavaScript and HTML, the technology that web developers already know. Framework 7 is so close to native iOS apps that it even provides features like swipe back, out of the box. There are many other ready to use UI elements including list views, media lists, side panels, modals etc., that can be used as is without the need to get into JavaScript.

  8. JQuery Mobile:

    jQuery suite is still in the game and holding the ground tight against the feature rich hybrid mobile app development frameworks like Ionic, Onsen UI and Framework 7. The die-hard jQuey fans community has built this minimalist jQuery Mobile package on top of solid jQueyr and jQuery UI foundation.

    The focus of jQuery mobile is to empower developers to build web apps and mobile apps that run seamlessly and with unique user experience across mobiles, tablets and desktops. It doesn’t focus much on providing native look and feel to apps for individual platforms like iOS or Android.

  9. Mobile Angular UI:

    This one is for the fans of Bootstrap and Angular. With Mobile Angular UI, you get best of both Bootstrap 3 and Angular framework to build HTML5 mobile applications. Angular UI is more like an extension to Bootstrap 3 but without any dependencies to bootstrap js or jQuery. It utilizes fastclick.js and overthrow.js for smooth and better mobile experience.

    Mobile Angular UI provides directives for building UI component like overlays, switches, sidebars, scrollable areas and absolute positioned navbars that don’t bounce on scroll. These essentially are the components that you find missing in Bootstrap 3 for building mobile apps.

  10. Famo.us:

    Famo.us is another powerhouse html5 apps development framework and targets to provide near native experience in hybrid apps. The main difference between famo.us and other hybrid html5 frameworks is that it focuses more on graphics rendering, 2d and 3d and hence is more suitable for games development.

Wrapping Up:

In this digital era, having hybrid mobile app for your business definitely, give you an edge over your competitors. With the help of hybrid mobile apps, you enhance the reach of your goods and services that are too at a low cost. For a successful hybrid mobile app, a good mobile app development company is a crucial component.

With 6+ years of domain expertise, InsigniaWM is providing end-to-end hybrid app development services with the help of skilled and dedicated developers. If you have any query related to mobile app development, you can contact us and our experts will get back to you in no time.

About the Author


I've been working in the web industry for 6 years. I often encourages my team to gain more practical learning on new developments and enhance their analytical and problem-solving skills. I prefer to do smart work instead of hard work. I am a learner, I like to learn new things. -:)

Languages that I love to work in:
HTML5, CSS3, PHP, Javascript, Bootstrap, AngularJS, Meteor

Email the author: aakash@insigniawm.com

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