Hybrid Vs. Native: Viggle, New York Times Talk Mobile App Strategy

A potentially more versatile breed of mobile app is catching the attention of startups and more established companies alike, but the technology has not won over everyone. Hybrid apps seek to blend the flexibility found in HTML5-based Web apps with traditional, native mobile apps into one platform. That serves the needs of Viggle, (OTCBB: FNCX), a startup in New York whose app rewards TV viewers as they watch shows. For media giant The New York Times, however, hybrid apps thus far have seen limited use because of the needs of digital advertising.

Mike Sommers, Viggle’s head of product, and Michael Finkel, director of Web product and emerging technologies for The New York Times, spoke last month at a Mobile Monday New York event at the TimesCenter about the ways their respective companies use hybrid apps and how the technology could change the way mobile apps are developed.

Understanding what a hybrid app is requires a look at Web-based apps designed with HTML5. This latest version of the language used to create online content is being seen as a way to develop richer, more intricate Web apps that can run on most any device. Some Web apps, however, can feel a touch bland when compared with native mobile apps designed to work with specific operating systems such as Google Android or Apple iOS. In some cases native apps may offer different functions that take advantage of the devices they are built to work with.

Hybrid apps try to bring together elements from both to offer specialized features while allowing broad use among devices. Sommers said Viggle’s hybrid app works similarly to Shazam, picking up small audio samples via the users’ smartphone microphones while they watch television shows. The app converts the audio into a digital fingerprint, which is compared against Viggle’s cloud-based database of TV shows. Viewers using the app can receive loyalty rewards such as gift cards and … Next Page »

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