Mobile application creators need certain development tools to do their jobs. In this guide, we will explain the most significant differences between native, hybrid, and progressive apps and how they relate to app development in general.
These apps are straightforward because they’re designed to work on all browsers and systems. Web apps typically come as responsive, interactive websites that are optimized for mobile devices. Social media sites like Facebook and Twitter are perfect examples of web applications.
Web apps can:
- Be used without a separate installation—these apps are run in a browser window
- Work on most browsers without extensions or plugins
- Be affordable to build and maintain
- Receive regular updates without the use of third-party apps
Web apps cannot:
- Be used without internet access
- Access the full range of features found in other app types
- Be viewed on marketplaces such as the Google Play Store
Sometimes known as mobile apps, native applications are purpose-built to use on platforms and operating systems such as iOS and Android. Native apps can be downloaded from Apple’s App Store and the Google Play store for immediate use on compatible devices. A native app doesn’t need a constant internet connection; it only needs access when updates are incoming.
Native apps can:
- Be used without an internet connection
- Be directly installed for faster startups and increased responsiveness
- Use a device’s location, camera, or other resources to improve the user experience
- Be built easily, thanks to the availability of developer tools
Native apps cannot:
- Be used easily without regular updates, which can be costly and time-consuming
- Be built quickly. Developers must build for two separate platforms, so it may take longer to bring an app to market
- Be brought to users easily. Certain requirements must be met before the Google Play and App Stores will display a native app, and small development teams may not be able to meet those guidelines
Hybrid apps can:
- Be built affordably without sacrificing the functionality and benefits of native applications
- Offer the features of a web application and are faster to build than native applications
- Use location, camera, and other mobile device resources
- Use a single codebase, which makes it easier to port to other platforms
Hybrid apps cannot:
- Be used without a stable internet connection
- Function without plugins that access a device’s resources
- Be fully supported on all platforms without costly, platform-specific modifications and updates
A progressive web app or PWA is an evolved web application that combines native app elements with the functionality of a web app. While they’re stylistically like native apps, they are not found on the most popular app marketplaces.
While users must have an internet connection for initial access, subsequent uses do not require it. Information is stored in the browser cache, so the app can access crucial resources when it is saved on a device.
Progressive apps can:
- Work on almost any browser
- Provide offline access
- Load faster than web applications
- Be simpler to build because of the use of standard code for multi-browser compatibility
- Be built to work on multiple platforms
- Access native app features at a lower cost
Progressive apps cannot:
- Access a device’s resources without help, which means that native app usage may be necessary
- Work without putting an enormous strain on a device’s battery
- Offer a personalized UX (user experience)
Choose the Right Application Type for Your Needs
Above, we’ve provided a comprehensive guide to the elements, benefits, and disadvantages of hybrid, web, native, and progressive web applications. With the information at hand, most developers will be able to determine which app type will suit their product and development requirements.