When the topic of mobile applications comes up, people immediately think that a native app is the answer.  Before we make that assumption, you first have to look at the problem you are trying to solve before proposing a solution.

What is a Hybrid App?

A hybrid application typically uses web technologies like HTML5, CSS and JavaScript in combination with frameworks like Cordova/PhoneGap.  Native and web, brought together.

So What’s the Difference?

Hybrid apps typically have a bad reputation for being unresponsive and clunky and most people confuse them with mobile websites.  Really, its the best of both worlds by allowing you to leverage your existing web technologies and enhancing them for the platform.  The reason you would want to go from the web to hybrid is to access some native features like the accelerometer, local storage or contacts.

Why does anyone build Native?

If you are targeting a single platform, you would be hard pressed to find a good argument not to build native.  Some might say that developing native takes longer but if you created a career on developing against a specific platform, chances are you can do it pretty quickly.  The time saving typically relates to the multi-platform angle.  Also, if you are looking to build a game app, native is probably your way to go.

Do I care if it’s Hybrid or Native?

Nope, most people can’t even tell.  Some of the most popular apps our there are native and you don’t even know it (typically people don’t publicize it).  When in a meeting a few weeks ago, I had someone ask if the demo they just saw was a Native app and I told them “No” and they were disappointed.  If you have to ask me if it is, does it really matter?