Types of Mobile Apps

Types of Mobile Apps and how to develop them?

To run a business big or small, you need to acknowledge the main thing. Which type of mobile application do I build? There are many types of mobile apps for you to choose from. They can be native apps, web apps or hybrid apps. 

You may find different businesses or companies that quote that they build their own web app. Or some businesses that had a digital marketing agency build a native or hybrid app for them. But to a normal reader these terms can be confusing. Well we’re here to clear that confusion for you! Let us go into detail on different types of mobile apps and how you can develop them, their basic comparisons, pros and cons of all types of mobile applications and how beneficial each of them can be for your business.

Why is constructing a mobile app necessary?

More than half of all web traffic worldwide comes from mobile devices. This means it’s crucial to make your website or web app mobile-friendly. Using a desktop site on a mobile phone is frustrating – they load slowly and don’t fit well on small screens, leading to a poor user experience. A well-designed Android app can provide a much smoother experience for your users.

Whether you are a professional developer or just starting out, these insights will help you with all types of mobile app development that meets the needs of today’s users.

Key Statistics on Mobile Apps and Their Development

  • Mobile apps are categorized into native, web, and hybrid apps, with native apps making up 67% of downloads in 2023.
  • In 2022, 75% of mobile internet users preferred apps over websites for their better user experience.
  • Developing a native app takes 3-6 months and costs $50,000-$500,000.
  • User-centric design boosts retention, with 60% of new users likely to return within a month.
  • Mobile apps generated $133 billion in revenue in 2021.
  • Hybrid frameworks like Flutter and React Native are popular for cross-platform development, with Flutter usage rising to over 42% in 2022.

What are some types of mobile apps?

Types of Mobile Apps

There are four main types of mobile apps:

Native apps:

  • Built for specific platforms like iOS or Android
  • Ensure high performance and seamless integration.

Web apps:

  • Work on any mobile device via a browser
  • No downloads needed
  • Lightweight and accessible

Hybrid apps:

  • Combine native and web elements
  • Available in app stores
  • Offer a balance between performance and development efficiency

Progressive Web Apps (PWAs):

  • PWAs offer features like push notifications and offline access, all within the convenience of your web browser.
  • PWAs load instantly and function seamlessly even without an internet connection.
  • PWAs are discoverable through search engines and work across all platforms, eliminating the need for separate versions for Android or iOS.

Now lets go into detail and explain each of these types of apps in detail.

Native Apps:

Description: Native apps are developed specifically for one platform (iOS or Android) using platform-specific programming languages (Swift for iOS, Java/Kotlin for Android). This means they are tailored to leverage the full suite of functionalities provided by the operating system.

Example: Instagram is a native app available on both iOS and Android, each version optimized for the specific platform.

Pros:

  • High performance and speed: Since native apps are optimized for the specific platform, they tend to run faster and more smoothly.
  • Better integration with device hardware and features: Native apps can easily access device-specific features such as the camera, GPS, and accelerometer.
  • Superior user experience due to adherence to platform guidelines: Following platform-specific guidelines ensures that the app feels intuitive to users.

Cons:

  • Higher development cost and time: Developing separate apps for each platform can be expensive and time-consuming.
  • Separate codebases for each platform: This requires maintaining and updating multiple codebases.
  • Requires approval from app stores for distribution: Approval processes can be stringent and time-consuming.

Development Tips: Ensuring an intuitive user interface (UI) and seamless performance is crucial. Utilize platform-specific design guidelines like Human Interface Guidelines for iOS and Material Design for Android to create a consistent user experience. Regularly update the app to keep up with new OS versions and features.

Web Apps

Description: Web apps are accessed through a web browser and are not installed on the device. They are developed using standard web technologies such as HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, allowing for a wide reach.

Example: Google Docs can be accessed via any web browser and does not require installation, offering robust document editing capabilities online.

Pros:

  • Cross-platform compatibility: Web apps can run on any device with a web browser, making them highly versatile.
  • No installation required: Users can access web apps immediately without downloading anything.
  • Easier and faster to update: Updates can be rolled out server-side, meaning all users get the latest version instantly.

Cons:

  • Limited access to device hardware and features: Web apps can’t leverage device-specific features as fully as native apps.
  • Dependent on internet connection for functionality: Users need to be online to access the app.
  • Performance can be slower compared to native apps: Web apps might not be as responsive or smooth.

Development Tips: Focus on responsive design to ensure the app works well on all devices and screen sizes. Optimize loading times for a better user experience. Ensure robust security measures are in place to protect user data.

Hybrid Apps

Hybrid apps combine elements of both native and web apps. They are built using web technologies but are hosted inside a native app shell, allowing them to leverage both web and native features.

Example: Uber, which offers a consistent user experience across different platforms by using a combination of native and web technologies.

Pros:

  • Single codebase for multiple platforms: This simplifies development and maintenance.
  • Lower development cost and time: Developing one app for multiple platforms can be more economical.
  • Access to device features through plugins: Hybrid apps can use plugins to access native device features.

Cons:

  • Performance may not be as high as native apps: The hybrid approach can introduce some performance overhead.
  • Dependence on third-party frameworks: The app’s capabilities are limited by the chosen framework.
  • Potential for inconsistent user experience across platforms: Differences in platform behavior can lead to inconsistencies.

Development Tips: Use frameworks like Flutter or React Native to streamline development. Efficiently manage both native and web components to enhance performance. Regularly test the app on various devices to ensure a consistent user experience.

Progressive Web Apps (PWAs)

Description: PWAs are web apps that offer an app-like experience. They can be installed on the home screen and work offline, providing a more native-like experience than traditional web apps.

Example: Twitter Lite is a PWA known for its fast loading time and offline usability, offering core Twitter functionalities without consuming much data.

Pros:

  • Can work offline and offer fast loading times: PWAs can cache data and load quickly even with slow or no internet connection.
  • No need for app store approval: They can be distributed directly over the web, bypassing app store restrictions.
  • Single codebase for all platforms: This simplifies development and maintenance.

Cons:

  • Limited access to device hardware and features: PWAs have fewer capabilities compared to native apps.
  • Browser compatibility can vary: Not all browsers support all PWA features equally.
  • May not fully replicate the native app experience: There could be some limitations in terms of performance and native-like user experience.

Development Tips: Implement service workers to enable offline functionality. Use app manifests to control the app’s appearance and behavior when installed on a home screen. 

Comparative Table of Different Types of Mobile Apps

TypeTechnologiesPlatform DependencyAdvantagesDisadvantages
NativeSwift, Java, KotlinPlatform-specificSmooth performance, better user experienceHigher development cost and time
WebHTML, CSS, JavaScriptPlatform-independentEasy to update, accessible from any deviceLimited access to device features
HybridHTML, CSS, JavaScript, frameworksCross-platformCost-effective, faster to developMay not perform as well as native apps
 (Flutter, React Native)   
Progressive WebHTML, CSS, JavaScript, service workersPlatform-independentOffline functionality, fast loading timesLimited support on older devices

Now that you’ve known what the basic types of mobile app are. We can move to the next section which is equally important for mobile application development. How can you develop these applications? Let us loot into the development procedure for all basic types of apps mentioned above:

How to develop mobile applications?

Now that all basic methodologies are clear let us get to business and how to develop all types of mobile applications. Well walk you through step by step on how to develop a mobile applications. 

Define the App’s Purpose and Target Audience

Identify the Problem or Gap

  • Conduct market research to pinpoint a gap or a problem that your app can solve.
  • Example: Headspace identified the need for accessible mental health resources and created a solution to fill this gap.

Understand Your Audience

  • Analyse the demographics, preferences, and behaviours of your target audience.
  • Example: Determine whether your audience is tech-savvy, their average age, and what platforms they use.

Choose the Appropriate Type of Mobile App

There are different types of mobile apps to choose from: Native apps offer the best performance for specific platforms, while web apps are accessible on any device with limited features. Hybrid apps blend native and web advantages for faster, cross-platform development. Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) deliver an app-like experience with offline functionality and quick loading times.

Plan the App’s Features and Design

Create Wireframes

  • Develop basic layouts to visualise the app’s structure and flow.
  • Tools: Figma, Sketch, or Adobe XD.

Develop Prototypes

  • Create interactive prototypes to simulate the user experience and gather feedback.
  • Iterate based on usability testing and feedback.

Develop the App

Choose Your Tech Stack

  • Select the development technologies and frameworks based on the type of app you’re building.
  • Example: Use Flutter for hybrid app development, Swift for iOS native apps.

Start Coding

  • Follow best practices for code organisation and architecture to keep the codebase clean and scalable.
  • Practical Tip: Use version control systems like Git to manage your code efficiently.

Test Thoroughly

Conduct Unit Tests

  • Verify individual components’ functionality to ensure they work correctly in isolation.

Perform Integration Tests

  • Check that different components function correctly when integrated together.

Conduct User Acceptance Testing (UAT)

  • Gather user feedback to ensure the app meets their needs and provides a good user experience.
  • Example: Companies like Airbnb invest heavily in QA processes to maintain high-quality standards.

Launch and Market the App

Deployment

  • For native apps, submit to the relevant app stores, ensuring compliance with their guidelines.
  • For web apps and PWAs, ensure your server and hosting environment are robust.

Marketing Strategies

  • Utilise organic and paid marketing strategies to attract initial users.
  • Stat: “There will be 7.49 billion mobile users worldwide by 2025.” – Statista

Gather Feedback and Iterate

Collect User Feedback

  • Use in-app surveys, app store reviews, and direct feedback to gather user insights.

Apply Updates and Improvements

  • Regularly update the app to fix bugs, add new features, and improve overall performance.
  • Stay up-to-date with the latest trends and technologies to keep your app competitive.

Understanding and meticulously implementing these steps will greatly enhance the prospects of developing a successful mobile application. By focusing on continuous improvement and user-centric design, developers can create apps that not only meet but exceed user expectations.

Why Consider a Professional for Mobile App Development?

At Digital OORT, we understand that developing a native app requires specialized skills and in-depth knowledge of platform-specific SDKs and tools. Our professional team brings this expertise and experience to the table, ensuring your app is developed efficiently and effectively. We navigate complex challenges, integrate advanced features, and adhere to best practices, ultimately delivering a high-quality product. By partnering with Digital OORT, businesses save time, reduce costs in the long run, and ensure a seamless user experience, making our services a superior choice compared to DIY methods.

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