strategy
Dev

8 min read

January 23, 2023

Learn about the various types of mobile app development, including native, hybrid, and cross-platform apps. Discover the pros and cons of each and find out which type is best for your project.

Types Of Mobile Apps Development And Which One To Choose?

Do you imagine life without using any applications? It’d be quite hard, wouldn’t it? There is simply plenty of different apps making our life easier on so many different fronts. Also, it is so easy to use them since apps are being designed for any kind of mobile device, like smartphones, tablets, smartwatches, and more! They are being used by many different market sectors as well as just by regular people in their everyday tasks, such as: scheduling, commuting, studying, playing games or staying in touch with friends and family. This covers almost all aspects of our lives! With just a few clicks, you can check your bank account, inquire about public transport connections, order food, or shop. Almost every industry already benefits from the opportunities offered by mobile applications, which is why app classification is so far from being homogeneous.

The Difference Between Web and Mobile Apps

The first differentiation we can signal is the division into the web and mobile apps. Generally speaking, the main difference is that the first one works in the browser and requires access to the Internet, and the second one is designed for quick use on all types of smartphones, tablets, and other devices. The choice of one of them often depends on the individual needs and preferences of the user. Of course, creating web and mobile applications differs in many other, more complicated aspects.

Firstly,the technology and the programming languages. Web applications most often use HTML, CSS,and JavaScript Sometimes they are also based on PHP and MySQL languages. The two last ones are meant to support more complex and complicated applications. On the other hand, mobile applications are based on technology and SDK tools and are created for specific platform - iOS orAndroid. In the case of Android developers usually use Java, C++, or Kotlin, while in the case of iOS app development they would rather use Objective-C and Swift. 

Different Types Of Mobile Applications

When talking about mobile apps, you can also find a wide range of categories and differentiations. Applications can be built using a variety of methods. Each project requires something different, so the approach should change every time. Fortunately, we have technologies to support all kinds of needs and requirements.

Let's start with the target audience - what are their needs and preferences? Do they use Android devices, or rather iOS? Or maybe both? This also may depend on the country where your potential audience resides. Americans usually choose Apple devices with 55% iOS hegemony over Android’s 46% - according to Statista.com. InEurope on the other hand, it greatly depends on the region. If you want to count total users - Android outnumbers iOS 63,52% to 35,98% - according to Global Stats. However, there are countries where both OS systems comes close like UK with 53,24% for Android to 46,6% for iOS and countries where Android wins by a landslide, like France with 70.34% of all smartphones, followed by iOS at 29.01%.

But why to choose between two? There is another solution. You can invest in creating an application for both operating systems and don’t worry about this!Some cross-platform frameworks like Flutter will allow you to build mobile applications that run on devices with both major operating systems. 

The type of application you want to build is also very important as it determines which development technology to choose. For example, e-commerce applications are usually developed as PWA (progressive web apps), which are partially similar to hybrid applications. But products that require access to hardware functions to work properly (camera, GPS, etc.) should not be created in hybrid technologies, but rather as native applications.

As you can see there are many things to consider before starting to work on the app. To make the choice easier let’s see what are the differences between native, hybrid, and cross-platform apps.

What Are Native Apps?

Each native application is built to be used by only one dedicated mobile operating system. Therefore, for each platform, the same application must be created from the scratch and written in the appropriate language. For Android, it can beJava or Kotlin, and for iOS, it can be Swift or Objective C. It also means that a native application made for Android cannot be installed and used on an iPhone- and vice versa. 

Due to the fact that native applications are written specifically for each operating system, they already have direct access to all device functions and default user interface components. This, in turn, affects their high efficiency, speed of performance, as well as a well-adapted user experience.Native applications offer experiences perfectly suited to the chosen platform.

If you are looking for an example of native apps, just open your phone. Most of the system apps such as Calculator, Notes, sometimes others like Dictionary, dedicated web browsers, and even wellness trackers, such as Samsung Health and other built-in apps are native applications.

When To Choose The Native App?

Definitely go for a native app when you need just a single platform application. No need for anything more. A native app will be the best choice if you want to use some specific hardware options like a camera, GPS, and more.

We recommend choosing this type of app if your project is a complex project with lots of features and you need it to operate smoothly and with the high-performance

rates.Since native apps are really reliable and can handle a lot, it is a perfect choice for developing 3D games and any kind of animation

What Are The Native Apps Pros?

-      For starters - great efficiency.

With native mobile applications, speed and efficiency are all rolled into one. When programming a solution dedicated to a specific operating system, you can fully use the potential of a given platform. This leads to a significant performance improvement. The time needed to load such an application is fast and all functionalities work smoothly. All because these applications use the maximum potential of the processing speed of the device.

-      Security - always make sure you can count on it!

Native mobile applications can offer you better security. Primarily as a protection against any breach of security from the outside, as well as mechanisms that facilitate data protection by the user himself. In the case of native mobile applications, it is much easier to use two-factor or multifactor authentication, then it is in the case of hybrid applications. Solutions of this type use official API interfaces, which is why they are able to ensure a high level of security. Especially since these applications are independent of third-party software, eliminating potential security issues right from the start. Also, you don't have to rely on open-source libraries

-        Better stability.

Native mobile applications are much more stable when it comes to using, maintenance and development. If you want to create a reliable solution that can be freely expanded, this approach is perfect for you. 

-     Better integration with the device.

Native mobile applications take full advantage of the hardware functions of the device and its operating system. It is thanks to this that they are faster in the implementation of any processes.They offer better integration with mobile equipment, saving time and providing you with more comfort of use.

-      Providing better user comfort.

While speaking of the comfort of use, it is worth emphasizing that native mobile applications tend to provide both: a very good UI and UX experience. Adaptation to a specific platform guarantees that they are very intuitive and interactive at the same time. The screen size does not matter due to the availability of patterns for each platform. All graphics retain their appearance and easily adapt to the specifics of each device. The resolution, size, and high-quality graphics - in the case of native apps you can count on them!

What Are The Native Apps Cons?

-     Growth possibilities. If you need a native application for more systems - you need to develop it separately - one operating system at a time. Therefore, project takes more time and is more expensive. Also adding new features requires implementing them separately in each code base

-   More developers. Native programming languages usually require a larger team of specialists in specific fields.

Need for a download and installation. Most of the native apps to work need to be previously downloaded and installed on each device. Obviously, there are some exceptions such as system apps that come already pre-installed on your smartphones, such as the previously mentionedCalculator or Notes. But other than that user has to download and install the app. And those two steps sometimes seem like too much or meet other unexpected blockers such as no space available on the device’s drive.

Hybrid Applications

Hybrid applications are a combination of native and web application functionalities and are built using some well-known languages and frameworks - such asJavaScript, HTML, and CSS. You can say that hybrid apps are basically a mix of web and mobile elements, thanks to which we can quickly create a product available for various platforms. Hybrid applications work much like native applications. However, they are created using HTML and Java Script with CSS libraries (the same as those used to build the websites). The web browser is used for the proper functioning of the application. It is invisible to the user because the browser does not need to be turned on and the software instead is displayed in full screen. The most popular frameworks for building hybrid applications are React Native, Cordova, Ionic, and Xamarin.

The process of building a hybrid application consists of creating a code base for the backend and covering it with a native "shell" that allows you to add the application to Google Play and App Store.

You will surely know the most popular hybrid apps such as Twitter,Instagram, Gmail, Evernote, Bolt, and Uber.

When To Choose a Hybrid App?

​​If your app is being used by many users on multiple platforms the wisest solution is to go with a hybrid app. This type of app is also a good idea in case of simple content-based designs with no animations or complex functionalities.

Another reason could be time-related. If there is simply no time for developing cross-platform solutions, and you want to get your product available for various devices you can choose to go with a hybrid approach.

This type of app would be also used for Minimum Viable Product (MVP) development aimed at testing the design idea.

What Are The Hybrid Apps Pros?

-      Hybrid apps have lower development costs, especially if we compare creating a hybrid application for many different platforms with developing native ones dedicated to each of them.

-      Shorter time to introduce it to the market due to the common backend for all variants of the application.

-      Simpler application maintenance due to its web-based code. Contrary to the native apps, which are way more complex in terms of coding.

-      Access to the native API of devices, which allows you to use their functions such as camera or GPS.

-      When it comes to adding some new features is easier with just one codebase to update, as the developers do not need to create separate codes for each operating system. This reduces development costs and time. Hybrid app

maintenance is also cheaper than native applications built for both platforms.

-      In the case of hybrid apps, code created can be also used on the website, which makes its function similar to the PWA (Progressive Web App)applications.

-      The appearance of the app is the same on both platforms, which translates into a consistent user experience.

-      In the case of performance, the hybris apps are almost as efficient as native applications.

-      All functions of the device can be used by hybrid apps thanks to the use of appropriate plugins. 

What Are The Hybrid Apps Cons?

-      Advanced applications will not be as efficient as hybrid solutions, since some of their functionalities and solutions might slow them down.

-      One codebase means the hybrid app works the same way across all devices, and this can cause problems while using some Android or iOS-only features.

-      Development of hybrid solutions usually requires a larger development team - including a web developer for the backend and a native developer for the rest of the code.

-      Hybrid apps performance is lower in the case of handling high-quality graphics or 3D (this is a case of apps including advanced animation and most complex games).

-      Mixing native elements with the external ones in the hybrid app can lead to the poorer user experience.

-      Every now and then, developers must synchronize the application with the latest versions of libraries such as Cordova or Ionic.

-      If there is no appropriate plug-in to program the operation of a device function, it should be rewritten from the scratch, which increases the cost and time of application development. This may occur if it is a completely new feature, e.g., a newly launched smartphone.

-      Hybrid apps don't work offline. An internet connection is required for the full functionality of the application.

What’s a Cross-Platform Application?

Cross-platform applications may resemble hybrids, but they are not the same. They use native elements to provide a great user experience, no matter what device they are working on. All platforms have the same code base, but also have some differences in UI.

Cross-platform applications are very popular nowadays, mainly thanks to frameworks such asFlutter or React Native. Creating applications with any of these technologies helps to reduce time and costs significantly.

If you know that you want to test the app in two markets - Android and iOS -creating a cross-platform app is the best solution.

The most popular cross-platform apps you can find our Facebook, Alibaba, and Slack. 

When To Choose a Cross-Platform App?

Definitely, when you know you want to deliver your product to both: iOS and Android users at the same time, or you don't know which of these groups will be more important to your business - so you want to test both platforms.

Choose the cross-platform approach, if the application is not too complicated and does not require features that differ on each platform.

This is also a great option for projects on a small budget. In case the business owner cannot afford to make a native solution dedicated to each OS separately.

Also, pick the cross-platform app if you need quick execution.

What Are The Cross-Platform Apps Pros?

-      They are time and cost-effective as you create two versions of the application simultaneously.

-      In the case of a cross-platform app, the code can be later reused to build a solution for another platform.

-      It's easier to reach more potential audiences with both the iOS and Android apps simultaneously.

-      Adding new features for a cross-platform app doesn't take as much work, as in the case of the other solutions, mainly because the code is consistent. Contrary to the native apps, where typically, the code for each OS is very different from the other.

-      In the case of cross-platform apps, UI performance is very comparable to native solutions as it is usually rendered using native solutions.

What Are The Cross-Platform Apps Cons?

-      With cross-platform apps, you have to take into mind the framework dependency when it comes to hardware, operating system, and UI functionality.

-      Crafting can be more complicated with cross-platform apps since they require more developed skills and experience from the developer.

-      Some parts of the code must be written separately due to platform differences.

-      Every time Google or Apple introduces a new feature forAndroid or iOS, it takes some time to update applications to support this new feature. In native apps, new SDKs are provided with updates much faster thanfor cross-platform frameworks.

-      Not every app can be built with a cross-platform solution.There are many cases when it’s better to stick to native development.

Which Type Of App You Should Go With?

Choosing the right solution for your mobile application depends on many factors. You have to consider your budget, time, end-users, and everything that your product hasto offer. What kind of application do you want to provide to your target group?

Is it a complicated or rather simple one? How many features do you want to provide to its end-users - and are they advanced or not? All the details matter as the use of hardware or system functionalities may be limited in various options.

Business goals and expectations are also important. Analyze your marketing strategy and understand your desired consumer. How does he/she behave, what devices does he/she use, and in what situations will he/she be looking for your products or services? A clear vision helps in choosing the right solution, which may turnout to be crucial when optimizing development’s time and costs.

 

If you are still not sure which type of mobile application will be the best choice for your project - talk to us at Score Digital, we are here to help you!

We hope that this portion of knowledge has sharpened your appetite for more. If you want to learn more - please do not hesitate to contact us, by clicking the link below.

Are you considering building custom software applications?

Do you want to work with a partner that will deliver cost-effectively and on time? Contact Score Digital to find out more about our values and development process.

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