Different types of mobile apps explained

Living in the digital age, we can’t imagine our lives without apps. Whether we use them for work, entertainment, or socializing, the chances that all of us open at least one app per day are pretty high. Besides being fun and convenient, apps are very functional too. They make our lives easier. You can keep track of anything thanks to an app – when to take your medication, how many miles you’ve walked in a day, or which shop offers the best discounts. Every app gives restricted and isolated usefulness. With today’s devices, apps and app development are reaching even higher levels of usefulness, both for the creators and the users. Apps can help business owners increase productivity, expand the business, and save money.

What is a mobile application?

An application is a computer software package. Its purpose is to perform a specific function for an end-user or another application using the computer’s operating system. A mobile application is the type of application software created for mobile phones, smartphones, or tablet PC. Though they are restricted in capacity, apps are only getting bigger, more popular, and more demanded.

Today, apps can be used for browsing the internet, scrolling through social media, or playing games. On the other hand, the initial mobile application was focused on general-purpose information. For instance, calendar, weather information, email, or stock market were some of the features of the initial apps. As the demand for the apps grew, the apps expanded as well.

There is hardly an area without an app made for it. The explosion of apps made banking, volunteering, and even shopping more convenient and less complex. The fact that all of these beneficial properties can fit into your pocket makes them even more appealing. You aren’t restricted to an area – you can move freely and still enjoy the perks of apps.

Native applications

Using a specialized coding language, native apps are created for a specific type of operating systems such as iOS, Android, or Windows. For instance, the iOS operating system will be developed in Swift or Object-C, while Android will use Java or Kotlin. These applications are usually created for offline purposes, such as mobile games or dictionaries.

Users love these apps since they allow for easy access and use. When designed completely, errors aren’t frequent. Some of the native app features are camera and GPS. A wide range of APIs facilitate the app development process and make the app even more useful. Apps like these allow you to write, text, create and read files on your device. Another great strength of native apps is the user experience.

Easily secured, perfect for high-performance products, and highly functional, native apps rarely disappoint their users. However, they have some weaknesses too. For instance, since they can only run on a specific operating system, the programmer will have a lot more work to do. Every operating system will have its own code. As a result, different application versions will be inconsistent, and the costs might be higher.

Web application

The next type of mobile application is the web application. A web application is a computer program. Thanks to a web browser and web technology, tasks are easily performed on mobile phones. These are for creating site adaptations for mobile phones. They are perfect for accessing the website at any time, especially when users have no access to a computer. 

Web applications are similar to native apps in the sense that they carry out the same method of organization. However, the fact that they can only be accessed by the website browser makes a huge difference. Web apps are mostly written in CSS, JavaScript, or HTML5. These apps don’t require much memory. Visited pages are usually bookmarked and, when accessing them for the first time, users do it over URL.

Since these apps are responsive websites, they don’t come as independent applications. That means that people can’t download or install them. Word processors, online forms, video editing, and spreadsheets are just some of the web app examples.

Hybrid application

The hybrid application brings together the advantages of the first two types of apps. It runs on mobile WebView, but for building, CSS, JavaScript, and HTML are used. For this reason, hybrid apps have access to mobile phone hardware. For instance, they can access the camera, sound, accelerometer, and many other functions.

These applications bring the best of both worlds. They have a responsive design, home screen symbols, and fast performance. Being installed on the phone, users can use social networks, take pictures, or connect with their coworkers. Sometimes, these apps can even function disconnected.

Cordova, Ionic, Phonegap, and other similar cross-platform frameworks are used for writing hybrid apps. These apps are easy to develop, they can maximize cost savings, and their maintenance is simple. As far as the disadvantages are concerned, there aren’t many of those. Hybrid apps might run slower than native apps, and their visual interface isn’t as familiar.

Cross-platform applications

Even if they often get confused, cross-platform apps aren’t the same as hybrid apps. One feature they have in common is their ability to share source code. Writing code once allows for minimal costs, time, and effort. On the other hand, they have plenty of differences.

With a codebase like this, adding features is simple and easy. The cross-platform app is perfect for businesses low on budget. When business owners don’t know who their target audience is, these apps will help them cover the larger ground. With the Cross-platform frameworks, programmers can build apps suitable for specific business goals.

Since these apps use both native and non-native gadget components, occasional performance issues might be expected. Poor performance can affect the user experience negatively, and app maintenance can be problematic with the different devices and operating systems.


Depending on their goals, developers create different types of mobile apps. Once the purpose of the app is established, choosing the most suitable type of app is rather easy.