Hybrid mobile apps are like any other apps you’ll find on your phone. They install on your device. You can find them in app stores. With them, you can play games, engage your friends through social media, take photos, track your health, and much more.

Like the websites on the internet, hybrid mobile apps are built with a combination of web technologies like HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. The key difference is that hybrid apps are hosted inside a native application that utilizes a mobile platform’s WebView. (You can think of the WebView as a chromeless browser window that’s typically configured to run fullscreen.) This enables them to access device capabilities such as the accelerometer, camera, contacts, and more. These are capabilities that are often restricted to access from inside mobile browsers. Furthermore, hybrid mobile apps can include native UI elements in situations where necessary, as evidenced by Basecamp’s approach towards hybrid mobile app development.

It can be very difficult to tell how a mobile application is built. Hybrid mobile applications are no different. A well-written hybrid app shouldn’t look or behave any differently than its native equivalent. More importantly, users don’t care either way. They simply want an application that works well. Trying to figure out if a mobile application is hybrid or native is like trying to differentiate rare grape varieties of wine. Unless you’re a sommelier or someone who really cares about it, it’s not terribly important. What matters is that the wine tastes good. The same can be said for hybrid mobile applications; so long as the application does what it’s supposed to do, who really cares how it was built?