Mobile apps are undeniably the order of the day for virtual activities. From booking a cab to ordering 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? In terms of development, there are 3 main types of mobile applications.

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

1. Native mobile apps

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

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

Most video gaming apps we see today are native mobile apps. Being native, these mobile apps have easy access to their respective operating platforms' hardware, software, and features, which are essential considerations when developing an app. They are usually faster than other mobile apps and assure higher reliability.

However, it's worth noting that 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 ensure faster performance and improved user experience.
  • Native apps are safe and secure to use since these apps have to pass the verification & approval of the respective app store before getting released. Also, native mobile apps get automatically updated routinely whenever their separate operating systems make performance & security upgrades.
  • Developers can customize the UI of native mobile apps easily per user expectations, further driving up user engagement with the app.
  • Some native apps can also run without the internet, which is not viable for other apps.

2. Mobile web apps

Mobile web applications are web apps that deliver/render pages on web browsers operating in mobile systems. Put simply, these applications run within the web browser of a mobile device. You can say mobile web applications are somewhat akin to websites that feel similar to the native app- but aren't implemented the same way. These apps target browsers and can work on various 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 realized they could experience native-like functionality easily in a browser. With many websites increasingly taking to HTML5, there seems to be little 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, mainly 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 them for approval.
  • As mobile web applications don't have to wait for approval, they can be launched anytime per the developer's preferences.
  • One doesn't need to go to the app store to install a mobile web app, as it can only be easily downloaded from its respective website.
  • 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, like their native counterpart, hybrid apps can access many device features like a contact book, GPS, etc. But unlike native apps, hybrid apps can be used on different operating platforms.

And in what way is it similar to mobile web apps? Hybrid apps are coded using the same technology (HTML/Java) to build websites and mobile web applications. However, it's noted 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 without the hassles of creating an entirely new and different application.

Advantages of hybrid apps

  • With hybrid apps, the HTML coding components 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 cross-platform compatibility.
  • Developers prefer building hybrid apps since the development procedure is almost identical to website development.
  • HTML is one of the most preferred languages for Hybrid apps, and the word does not pose many limitations, ensuring a better user experience with hybrid apps. 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 needs. 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.

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. They also assure the additional advantage of cross-platform compatibility. They also assure the additional advantage of cross-platform compatibility.

Mobile web apps are also far more accessible 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 only sometimes be sure of their security.