Types of mobile application – web, native or hybrid

Mobile Application Development

When we wake up in the morning, the first thing most of us do is check our phones. Scrolling through social media, reading the news or simply switching off the alarm constitute some of our daily routines. Mobile applications have become a necessary and significant part of our everyday lives. We use different applications in our phones that are made on different operating platforms. Though they run independently, together, they make our smartphones come to life.

A mobile application is basically a software application designed to operate on a mobile device such as phone or tablet. There are mainly 3 types of mobile applications – native, web and hybrid. All these kinds of apps have different technology platforms and have their share of advantages and disadvantages.

Native Apps

Native mobile apps are designed for a particular mobile operating system such as Windows or Android. They are intended for specific platforms and thus an app targeted for Apple devices will not run on Android devices. These apps are generally designed using Java, Kotlin, Python, Swift and C++.

  • Merits – These apps are developed to run on a specific mobile device platform. Thus they are generally more efficient and ensure speed and reliability in terms of performance. They utilize the native device user interface and hence provide faster and optimized user experience.
  • Demerits – The codes used in one mobile platform cannot be reused in the other platforms. As a result, efforts are duplicated for every platform which leads to higher costs and maintenance. Moreover, users have to install every update as and when it arrives which greatly takes up the phone’s storage.  

Web Apps

Web applications are responsive websites that redirect users to URLs. If users are faced with an option to install web apps, it usually bookmarks the website URL on their devices. Web apps are simply accessed with the help of a web browser which is scaled to fit on your mobile devices. They are coded using programming languages such as HTML5, CSS and JavaScript.

  • Merits – Web apps require minimum memory space on phones as users can access them from any device with an active Internet connection. Web-based apps don’t need to customize on a platform and hence, it lowers development costs.
  • Demerits – As a user’s personal database is stored in a certain server, bad internet connection can hamper user experience. Web apps are majorly dependent on web browsers of a device. Thus, different functionalities of various browsers can provide varying experiences to users. 

Hybrid apps

As the name suggests, hybrid apps make use of both native and web app elements. These are essentially web apps that behave like native apps. Just like native apps, they can be installed on a device but they run on web browsers. Hybrid apps are created using a mix of technologies like Ionic, Objective C, Swift and HTML5. 

  • Merits – Hybrid apps are developed more easily and are more economical than native apps. These are multi platform apps which have a single code base. This ensures low cost maintenance and smooth updates. They function well even with slower internet connection and ensure consistent user experience.
  • Demerits – Hybrid apps lack the speed and power that a native app possesses. This leads to lower performance and overall optimization in comparison to native apps.

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