Mobile app types and factors to consider for your project

Mobile app types and factors to consider for your project

Alexis van Schalkwyk
January 9, 2023
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Mobile app types and factors to consider for your project

Mobile apps are an integral part of our daily lives. The marketplace is crowded with all types of mobile apps. Today, even businesses who never would’ve needed apps in the past are getting into the game. While some are doing their best to stay ahead of the tech curve, many are simply meeting customer demand for an app that makes their lives easier. We outline the different mobile app types and factors to consider for your project so you have a better perspective of your project and business at hand.

We outline;

  • Native apps
  • Web apps
  • Hybrid apps
  • Progressive Web Apps (PWA’s)
  • Decision factors to consider (comparison table)

“Mobile is the enabling centerpiece of digital convergence. Mobile is the glue for all other digital industries to use when approaching convergence, but mobile is also the digital gateway for the real world to join in this global metamorphosis of human behaviour.”

Tomi Ahonen, consultant and speaker

Ahonen, T. (2014, January 30). Die Neuesten Tweets Von Tomi T Ahonen (@tomiahonen). Author, Consultant, Motivational Speaker. Biggest Social Media Slut In Mobile. A MAd Vidiot, F1 Fan, Globetrotting Digital Gypsy 007 Wannabe. The T Dawg. Hong Kong. 1580370250 On Twitter.

1. Native mobile apps

Native apps are built specifically for a mobile device’s operating system exclusively, hence the name ‘native’. An app built for iOS can’t be used on Android, Windows, Symbian or any other platform except for iOS.

One typically requires separate developers if to build apps for several platforms. That is because the programming language used for different operating systems is not the same. Android apps can be coded using Java or Kotlin, iOS developers use Objective-C or Swift, and Windows Phone apps require coding in C# or .NET. Compilation tools for the apps are also specific. For example, an iOS app will be compiled using Xcode, while an Android app is being compiled using Android Studio.

Examples of native apps are Camera+ for iOS devices and KeePassDroid for Android devices

Pros of Native mobile apps

  • High performance – As the app is designed for a specific operating system it is fast and reliable in terms of performance.
  • Good UX experience – Developers use native UI of the device ensuring positive user experience.  Native apps connect to the hardware directly, thus being able to offer richer user experience and interactive opportunities.
  • Native applications are distinctly accessible from app stores of their kind and have a clear tendency to reach target customers.

Cons of Native mobile apps

  • The high cost of replicating the app for use on other platforms
  • Native apps take up device storage. People who don’t have enough storage on their devices are cautious when it comes to downloading new products on their phones.
  • App Updates may take time. You will not be able to fix a bug in a wink. The updated version of the app will be available for users only when application stores approve the updated version of your app.

2. Hybrid Mobile apps

These are built using multi-platform web technologies (for example HTML5, CSS and Javascript). So-called hybrid apps are mainly website applications disguised in a native wrapper. Like native apps, they live in an app store and can take advantage of the many device features available. Like web apps, they rely on HTML being rendered in a browser, with the caveat that the browser is embedded within the app.  

The best programming languages for developing hybrid mobile apps are C++, Java, and Kotlin ( used for Android apps). A hybrid app can be used across various platforms like Android, iOS, and Windows. Some of the very well known apps are hybrid applications e.g Twitter, Gmail, Instagram


  • These are multi-platform apps, which mean your app can be used on more than one platform.
  • They are relatively easy and fast to build.
  • The single coding base functional for different platforms ensures smooth updates and cost-effective maintenance.
  • Extensively used APIs, such as accelerometer, gyroscope, and geo-location are available.


  • The apps typically lack speed, performance, and optimization.
  • There might be few design issues that fail to showcase the app in the same way on more than one platform.

3. Web apps

Web apps are mainly software applications having behavioural tendencies almost similar to native apps. They use a single browser to run and are built-in CSS, JavaScript, or HTML5. With the help of these apps, you can redirect users to your site URL and offer the option to install by just creating a page bookmark.

Web applications require a minimum of device memory, as a rule. As all personal databases are saved on a server, users can get access from any device whenever there is an internet connection. That is why the use of web apps with a poor connection would result in bad user experience. The drawback is access to not that many APIs for developers, except geolocation and few others.


  • Minimal storage space on devices
  • It is possible to save personal databases of web apps on a server. Users can, therefore, access it from all types of devices with an internet connection. Doesn’t matter if a user has an Android phone, or an iPhone, the app can be accessed from either device.


  • It does not offer access to numerous APIs for developers, which is possible in hybrid apps.
  • Performance largely depends on the network connection and browser compatibility.

4. Progressive Web apps

Progressive web apps are like regular web pages but provide additional user functionalities like working offline, push notifications and device hardware access which was earlier only available to native mobile apps. The great thing about PWAs is that they can be accessed via app icon on the device home screen and as soon as clicked, leads to the app website. PWAs are modern technology aimed at providing a seamless mobile experience. They are ‘native app like’, get automatically updated, are served through HTTPS so are quite safe, they can run fast regardless of operating systems and device types yet providing similar user experience and are easily installable.


  • Easy sharing – Unlike an app, you can share a PWA with its URL
  • Quick updates – PWAs gets updated like web-pages. You get the latest version when you use. No need to update them now and then.
  • You don’t need to install them to start using. They are simple web-pages. Users choose to ‘install’ when they like it.
  • Low storage and data usage – An app which takes close to 10 MBs as a native app, can be reduced to about 500KB when made a PWA.


  • Plugins can’t fetch data from Facebook and Google Apps. You need to separately login on the web too.
  • It cannot use the latest hardware advancements (like fingerprint scanner).
  • Key re-engagement features are limited to Android, such as add to the home screen, notifications etc.
  • PWA experience on social media is not popular these days as more and more social media companies are making their in-app browser.
  • Traffic from Play Store cannot be directed to the mobile app. You miss significant traffic who use Play store for their primary search.


Now you know all about the major categories of mobile apps on the market. Hopefully, this has helped you to determine the category your app fits under and a way to help your app stand out from the crowd.

The golden rule for an app developer is one: no matter what type of application, it has to make life easier. Either for everyone or a certain group of people, either in business or pure senseless fun. And all types of apps, be it native, hybrid or web apps, always cater to needs of the end-user. Each type of apps has it’s strong and weak points, thus business requirements purely dictate the choice of one or another.

Rosul, D. (2017, April 19). What Are The Popular Types And Categories Of Apps | Thinkmobiles.

You’re nearly ready to get started with the development process. If you have any questions or just want to run your idea past a panel of experts, we’re here to talk about these mobile app types and recommend the best one for your project.

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