Different Types of Mobile App

17 April 2021

This is a sketch . It might be rough, incomplete or without context.

Some of the terminology here is used in different ways by different people. This is how I use it, but since it isn’t industry standard, you might see these terms used in different ways.

[Edit: I’ve added some more clarification here: Different Types of Mobile App - Part 2 ].

Fully native app

  • Developed using Swift (or Objective-C) for iOS, and Kotlin (or Java) for Android.
  • Released through the app stores.
  • Has a separate code base for iOS and Android.

Cross-platform native app

  • Developed using a framework such as React Native, Flutter or Xamarin.
  • Compiles to two separate, native apps.
  • Has single code base (but often needs separate logic for iOS and Android).

Web app

  • Developed using standard web technologies to run in a browser on the device.
  • Not available through the app stores.
  • Can be saved to an icon on the home screen by the user.

Hybrid app

  • A native app shell that wraps a web app.
  • Can be downloaded through the stores.

Native with web views

  • An app where a large part of the app is native, but some elements are wrapped web pages.
  • This is common for content such as news articles.

Cross-platform hybrid app

  • Developed as a single codebase using a framework such as Cordova.
  • Compiles to two native app shells, which wrap web apps.