Brightcove Adds Native Plugin Architecture To Its App Cloud, Improving Cross-Platform, Hybrid App Development

Brightcove expanded beyond video content management and rolled out its platform for mobile app development about 18 months ago. It then released an update to the platform, which included a free version under an open source license, just a few months ago. Now, it’s updated the platform again, adding improved features for mobile app developers who wish to create hybrid mobile apps.

Hybrid apps have gotten a bit of a bad name in the development community recently. While having some basis in HTML5 enables app makers to easily reuse common elements between device platforms without writing too much native code, the downside is that those hybrid apps tend to not perform very well when compared to native apps. The best example might be Facebook’s clunky old iOS apps, which were based on a hybrid infrastructure before scrapping the whole thing and going native.

But talk to Brightcove CEO Jeremy Allaire, and you get the impression that the war between different mobile platforms is overblown, that developers don’t have to pick between building for either Android or iOS, or building native apps versus building those based on HTML5. That’s what App Cloud hopes to accomplish, at least. According to him, developers gain by being able to reuse code on the front end while having platform-specific plugins to provide native code on the back end.

The new App Cloud will have the same web-based WYSIWYG-type development tools, allowing publishers to quickly and efficiently roll out apps that work on iOS and Android with little duplicate development. Brightcove is hoping to speed up development and provide better performance and more flexibility to developers trying to reach Android and iOS devices by introducing a new plugin model for certain types of native app functions. That includes integration with technology from companies like Google and comScore, as well as integrated support for push notifications.

All developers have to do to install a plugin is copy a directory into their App Cloud project and include a JavaScript file. The platform then adds that functionality into the application. Plugins that Brightcove has created for the tool include a native media uploader, a native audio player, and an in-app email composer, as well as those that connect with third-party sources like Google Analytics. The company also has future plans for plugins like a native video player, DRM, and in-app purchasing.

While Brightcove is best known for its video management platform, the company clearly sees a future with app development. And as developers try to reach more devices and operating systems as they come online, there’s clearly a need for this type of capability. The question isn’t if this part of the business will grow, but how quickly.