How to Spot a Hybrid App on iOS

How do you know if you’re using a hybrid app? If it’s a good hybrid app, you shouldn’t! But even in the best apps there are often subtle differences that can hint at the use of a web view inside an app.

Tap highlights and touch callouts are good hints that the content is in a web view. You can trigger a tap callout like the one shown in the Urbanspoon app by using a long press on a link. Developers can avoid and even re-program callouts so while their presence or absence isn’t always a 100% indicator of a hybrid app, it’s usually a good sign.

On iOS devices, the virtual keyboard in a hybrid app will have Next and Previous buttons just like Mobile Safari.

The scroll momentum of web views feels different than native views, although developers can change this setting.

If all else fails, using a network analysis tool like WireShark, Charles Proxy, or Fiddler can help you detect HTML used to power a hybrid app’s web view.

Tools for Hybrid App Development

PhoneGap (Apache Cordova) is a free and open source framework that allows you to create mobile apps using standardized web APIs.

Trigger.io is a mobile development platform that bundles a hybrid framework with a JavaScript API for device functionality and UI components with a cloud based build environment.

IBM Worklight is application development platform that extends PhoneGap (Apache Cordova) with additional development tools and server support for backend integration, authentication, push notifications, and life cycle management. Stackoverflow has auseful guide to understanding the differences between PhoneGap and Worklight.

Sencha Space is a platform for securely distributing HTML5 and hybrid business applications in a managed enterprise environment. Space is an interesting alternative to the traditional mobile-app-management model and offers business control of their data without commandeering an employee’s phone.