Mobile apps are undeniably the order of the day for virtual activities. From booking a cab to ordering the dinner to get flight tickets to tracking the progress of an ongoing office project- we need and have mobile apps for all. But, what are the different types of mobile apps? Well, in terms of development, there are 3 main types of mobile applications.

The post below offers a glimpse on these 3 types for your convenience.

1. Native mobile apps

As we can infer from the name itself, native mobile apps are developed for their native or home platforms. In simple words, a native app is programmed to be used on a specific operating system.

They are written in particular programming languages which are unique to their respective operating platforms. For example, Android mobile app developers code in Java while the iOS counterparts are written in Objective C. You will find native apps for your specific operating platform in the OS’ app store.

Being native, these mobile apps have easy access to hardware, software and features of their respective operating platforms. They are usually faster compared to other types of mobile apps and assure higher reliability as well. Most of the video gaming apps that we see today are native mobile apps.

However, it’s to note here native apps do not carry cross-platform compatibility. It means a native app developed for Android won’t run on iOS or other operating systems and vice versa.

Advantages of native mobile apps

  • As native mobile apps enjoy access to the operating platforms in-built features, they assure faster performance and improved user experience
  • Native apps are safe and secured to use since these apps have to pass the verification & approval of the respective app store before getting released. Not only that, native mobile apps get automatically updated routinely whenever their separate operating systems make performance & security upgrades
  • Developers can customise the UI of native mobile apps easily as per the user expectations that further drive up user engagement with the app
  • Some native apps can run without the internet as well which is not viable for other types of apps

2. Mobile web apps

Mobile web applications can be defined as web apps to deliver/render pages on web browsers operating in mobile systems. Put just, these applications run within the web browser of a mobile device. You can say mobile web applications are somewhat akin to websites only which feel and like similar to the native app- but aren’t implemented the same way. As these apps actually target browsers, these can work on various kinds of mobile operating platforms. The most common languages used to create mobile web applications are CSS, HTML, JQuery and Javascript. These applications can also run on desktop web browsers.

Mobile web apps started gaining momentum with the emergence of HTML5 when developers realised they can experience native-like functionality easily in a browser. With a vast number of websites increasingly taking to HTML5, there seems to be hardly any distinction between standard web pages and web apps.

Advantages of mobile web apps

  • Mobile web apps are always way simpler to maintain compared to other types of apps, especially native apps
  • Mobile web applications can be easily manipulated to suit older mobile platforms
  • Unlike other apps, developers don’t have to take the hassle of submitting mobile web apps to the app store before releasing for approval
  • As mobile web applications don’t have to wait for approval, these can be launched any time as per developer’s particular preferences
  • One doesn’t need to go all the way to app store install mobile web app as it can be easily downloaded from its respective website only
  • Mobile web apps assure cross-platform compatibility

3. Hybrid mobile apps

Hybrid apps are an exclusive blend of native and web mobile apps. Akin to native mobile applications, hybrid applications live in app stores. Moreover, just like its native counterpart, hybrid apps are able to access many of the device features like contact book, GPS and so on. But unlike native apps, hybrid apps can be used on different operating platforms.

And in what way is it similar to mobile web apps? Well, hybrid apps are coded in the same technology (HTML/Java) which is used to build websites and mobile web applications. However, it’s to note here that people often misinterpret them as “web apps”, but that’s not right.

Companies usually develop hybrid mobile applications as wrappers meant for existing website pages. It enables them to set foot on the app store yet without the hassles of developing an entirely new and different application.

Advantages of hybrid apps

  • With hybrid apps, the HTML coding components that are used to build the apps can be used easily on various mobile operating platforms. It lessens the development costs
  • One of the main advantages of hybrid apps is surely cross-platform compatibility
  • Developers usually prefer building hybrid apps since here the development procedure is almost same as that of developing a website
  • HTML is one of the most preferred languages for Hybrid apps, and the word does not pose many limitations which ensures a better user experience with hybrid apps. Put just, with hybrid apps, you can be assured of applications enriched with features, animation and a dynamic feel
Now, which one should you use? Well, that entirely depends on your need. For example, if you want more security, higher performance and faster speed, go for native apps. But if cost is a problem, hybrid apps will be a better solution.

They also assure the additional advantage of cross-platform compatibility. On the other hand, mobile web apps ensure better content discoverability compared to the other two options. These applications also cost less and are comparatively more straightforward to maintain.

Additionally, mobile web apps are far easier to install as you don’t always have to rush to the app store to get them on your phone. But then, since these applications are not passed through app store verifications, you can’t always be sure of their security.