Understanding the different types of Mobile Apps

by Adediwura Adeaga

Smartphones have become an inseparable part of our daily lives. We literally fall asleep with our smartphones by our side and wake up with a morning alarm set on our phone. Next, we check the time, and most likely check social media or maybe even do our morning devotion; and the list goes on. These apps seamlessly make our lives easier and richer – all in real time.

Anyone planning to build an app for their business will inevitably have to answer the question: which type of mobile app do we build?

Here are the 3 types of Apps as well as their advantages and disadvantages:

# 1. Native mobile apps:

Native apps are built specifically for a mobile device’s operating system (OS). Thus, you can have native Android mobile apps or native iOS apps, not to mention all the other platforms and devices. Because they’re built for just one platform, you cannot mix and match – say, use a Blackberry app on an Android phone or use an iOS app on a Windows phone.

The native platform can be advantageous because it tends to optimize the user experience. Because it was developed specifically for the platform, it can operate more quickly and intuitively.

However, the problem with native apps lies in the fact that if you start developing them, you have to duplicate efforts for each of the different platforms. This drives up costs. And then, every time there’s an update to the app, the user has to download the new file and reinstall it.

Native apps are coded using a variety of programming languages. Some examples include: Java, Kotlin, Python, Swift, Objective-C, C++, and React.

# 2. Web apps:

Web apps behave similarly to native apps but are accessed via a web browser on your mobile device. They’re not standalone apps in the sense of having to download and install code into your device. They’re actually responsive websites that adapt its user interface to the device the user is on. In fact, when you come across the option to “install” a web app, it often simply bookmarks the website URL on your device.

Because it’s web-based, there is no need to customize to a platform or OS. This cuts down on development costs.

But this is also pertinent: web apps are entirely dependent on the browser used on the device. There will be functionalities available within one browser and not available on another, possibly giving users varying experiences.

Web apps are designed using HTML5, CSS, JavaScript, Ruby, and similar programming languages used for web work.

# 3. Hybrid mobile apps:

And then there are the hybrid apps. These are web apps that look and feel like native apps.

These apps can be installed on devices just like native apps, but they run through web browsers. Because you don’t have to build and maintain apps for separate platforms, your business can save on time and resources. It’s ideal for apps that primarily deliver content.

Building a hybrid app is much quicker and more economical than a native app. As such, a hybrid app can be the minimum viable product – a way to prove the viability of building a native app. They also load rapidly, are ideal for usage in countries with slower internet connections, and give users a consistent user experience. Finally, because they use a single code base, there is much less code to maintain.

However, Hybrid apps might lack in power and speed, which are hallmarks of native apps.

Hybrid apps use a mixture of web technologies and native APIs. They’re developed using: Ionic, Objective C, Swift, HTML5, and others.

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