Hybrid is a word with one meaning but used in many different ways depending on the cultural settings. In music, jungle is a hybrid between reggae and house. Hip Hop would say “what the fuck is hybrid”. Hybrid Rock is a combination of hard rock and rap. Most well known hybrid rock song: ”Walk this way” from Aerosmith and Run DMC. The movie industry hybrid has many different forms like a funny teenage movie is a combination of teenage movie and a comedy. So basically all movies are hybrids. And in the automotive industry hybrid is a car running on a combination of fossil fuel and electricity. Within the development, world hybrid is the same as agnostic. Whenever possible, it is used to hide the fact that nobody exactly knows what they are talking about. It’s a smokescreen. So let’s first zoom into the word hybrid. Where does it come from?
Many words in our language have a Latin and/or Greek origin. Hybrid comes from the Latin word hybrida, meaning the offspring of two dissimilar animals, specifically a tame sow and a wild boar (Vocabulary.com). A mule is a hybrid of a donkey and a horse; zedonk is a hybrid of a zebra and a donkey. And a German Shepherd of a German and a shepherd. So basically a hybrid is a “combination of two mixed origins”. So two leading to one is an important characteristic of being hybrid. Because if you add another origin in the mix, you get a mongrel. Then it all becomes a bit unclear where specific aspects come from. The term is often used for dogs of no definable type or breed. Not surprisingly the word mongrel has an unknown origin: English or German and was first used in the Dark Middle Ages. An era when things were dodgy and misty by default.
So, a hybrid app should originate from two different resources. Is this possible? To answer that question, we should look at what is considered the opposite of a hybrid app. This is the so-called native app. However, “the original app” would be the proper naming if we followed the correct terminology. Native apps are apps coded in the original language of the platform they are running on. Which platforms? The iOS (Apple) and the Android (Google) platform. The two dominant players in the mobile market. It means that if you want the same app on both platforms, you need to develop two apps, one for iOS and one for Android. So twice the work and two code bases. A fair comparison would be if I want this article also to be understood by Dutch native speakers, I would need to write a completely new version in Dutch.
If we go back to the true meaning of hybrid, a hybrid app would be two code bases one app. This is not possible for native apps. It’s like trying to breed a whale with a tiger. Not possible, however, if you combine a tiger and a shark you get a tiger shark. So who knows. Let’s go one step deeper. Two to one, two different originals lead to one new one. Maybe internet browser code and mobile app code lead to one application both for the internet and mobile. Seems more logical, isn’t it? It would be great to combine code for an internet and a mobile app into one app that can be used as a mobile app and in an internet browser. That would be a truly hybrid app. Unfortunately, we call this a web app. It is not strange that most people think that an app that runs on mobile as well as on internet browser is a hybrid app. It should be, but it isn’t. Are we at a dead end? Yes and no. To come to the correct explanation of a hybrid app, we need to turn the meaning of hybrid around, mirror it.
The basic of hybrid is two to one, but a hybrid app is basically the other way around: one to two. I mentioned that if you want to develop an app for iOS and Android, you basically need two versions. If you develop it the hybrid way, you need one version. And this one version can turn into two apps, one for Android and one for iOS when the development is done.
So the most important feature of a hybrid app is that you have one code base that can be used to develop an Android and an iOS app. One letter that your English and your Dutch friends can understand.