What are native, web and hybrid applications?

The design and development of apps is becoming more and more fashionable, and is spreading to more and more sectors. Apps related to leisure, gaming or shopping are no longer only developed.

More and more companies are betting on having their own applications. It may be one or several, or different types, depending on how much it costs to design and develop them, and the budget they have. Therefore, app development is one of the professions with the most future . But in order to have the necessary knowledge to develop them, you must have specific higher training . With it you will learn, in addition to creating an app from scratch , or using mockups that you have obtained to speed up and facilitate its design, the basic notions of application design, such as the difference between native, hybrid and web apps .

In this article, we tell you what the differences are between these three modalities so that you can begin to acquire the knowledge required within this sector. 

What are native apps?

Native apps are those that can be found on a smartphone, installed and working independently and with their own access icon. For installation, you need to go to an application store, such as the App Store for iOS (App Store) or Google Play for Android.

Each of these two platforms has its own applications, but there are also some that are compatible for both. The latter is the case of most applications for smartphones or tablets.

The development of these apps aims  to get the most out of the devices on which it is installed , as well as its functions, both software and hardware. That is why they can use, in addition to the device’s software platform, its GPS, its cameras or its accelerometer.

Many take advantage of the phone or tablet’s notification system to send notices to their users. Furthermore, in many cases they can work without the need for an Internet connection . Examples of these apps are, in addition to the most popular games, those for access to online banking from different banking entities or instant messaging apps such as WhatsApp or Telegram.

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Software development kit or SDK: the operating system for creating native apps

A Software Development Kit (SDK) is a set of tools and resources that allow developers to create specific applications for a particular operating system or platform. In the context of creating mobile applications, an SDK becomes the operating system for the development of native apps.

For application developers, an SDK acts as a set of detailed, predefined instructions that simplify the coding and design process. It provides libraries, debugging tools, code examples, and detailed documentation that guide programmers through the development process. By using an SDK, developers can take full advantage of specific features of an operating system , such as the user interface, device sensors, camera, and other unique features.

SDKs are essential in modern application development as they make it easy to create high-quality software and help developers save time and effort by providing them with the tools necessary to build robust and functional applications . Additionally, it allows them to focus on innovation and creativity, as they have a solid foundation on which to build their applications. 

What are the programming languages ​​to create a native app?

To create native applications, there are several programming language options, each specific to certain platforms. For iOS app development, the primary language is Swift , a modern and powerful programming language developed by Apple . Before Swift, Objective-C was the primary language for this operating system. However, Swift has quickly gained popularity due to its simpler syntax and superior performance.

In the case of Android applications , the main programming language is Java . Java is a versatile language that has been the mainstay of Android app development for many years. However, with the introduction of Kotlin by JetBrains, it has become an officially supported programming language for Android. As an added bonus, it is highly interoperable with Java and offers modern features that make it easier to develop more secure and concise applications.

Apart from Swift, Java and Kotlin, there are other programming languages ​​used for native application development. Their choice depends on the developer’s needs and preferences, such as C# for Windows applications, and C++ for applications that require exceptional performance, such as games and graphically intensive applications.

Ultimately, the choice of programming language will depend on the target operating system, the project goals, and the developer’s experience. This allows you to create native applications with functionality and performance optimised for the specific platforms on which they will run.

Hybrid applications: definition

Hybrid apps are applications that host their own elements, both native apps and web apps . Basically, they are applications developed primarily for the web , but wrapped in a kind of container . This makes them, at least at first glance, look like native apps .

Once they are downloaded from the corresponding app store, they are installed and can be used. At this point, the container will connect to device and system functions using an in-app browser . This runs within the app and the user practically doesn’t even know how it works, neither the browser nor the add-ons it has.

These types of apps are popular among app developers, because with them you only have to write code for a mobile app once . Afterwards, it is adapted to the different platforms to which you want to take it.

Its disadvantage compared to native apps is that it works slower. Because? Well, because it has an intermediate layer between its source code , unique for all platforms, and the platform for which it is created in each case.

In cases where they do not need to rely on a database, they also work without an Internet connection , like the native ones, and are integrated with web services and those of the smartphone or tablet. Also like the latter, they are installed on the device, and like websites, they are usually developed in JavaScript language and HTML 5 and CSS . They run the code in the container that turns them into standalone apps, and use the browser to display the HTML and JavaScript , on the one hand, and to use the JavaScript code and native APIs to access the hardware.

Hybrid apps: examples

Notable examples of hybrid apps include Instagram , which uses the React Native framework to deliver a native experience on iOS and Android. Another is Airbnb , which uses React Native for its mobile app, for a seamless user experience on iOS and Android devices.

Another example is Twitter , which uses hybrid technologies for its application. It streamlines development and maintenance by delivering a consistent user experience across platforms, and showcases the versatility and efficiency of hybrid apps in the mobile world.

Frameworks for hybrid apps

There are several popular frameworks for hybrid application development that allow developers to create cross-platform applications using standard web technologies such as HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.

Some of the most notable frameworks include Apache Cordova (formerly known as PhoneGap), which uses web technologies and plugins to access native device features. Ionic is another popular framework that uses AngularJS and Cordova to build beautiful, high-performance applications .

React Native , developed by Facebook (now Meta), allows developers to use React along with native components to create hybrid applications. All these frameworks offer powerful tools for efficient development of hybrid applications on multiple platforms.

Web applications: Main features and functions

Web applications are those that, as their name indicates, run on the Internet, through the web . Email applications such as Gmail and online office suite programs, such as Google Docs, belong to this type. To use them it is not necessary to carry out any installation on a computer or device.

In addition, your website can be accessed from virtually any device with an Internet connection . Some of them have apps, generally hybrid, with independent installation for smartphone or tablet.

The data with which these types of apps work, unlike what happens with native apps, is processed and saved within the website in which they are used. Generally, the data and files stored in them are saved in the cloud . For this reason, access is allowed from any device and location, as long as you have an Internet connection. The data is usually protected by username and password.

Web applications development

Web application development company refers to creating software that runs in a web browser. It uses technologies such as HTML, CSS and JavaScript to design interactive and functional interfaces accessible over the Internet.

Web developers use frameworks such as React, Angular, and Vue.js to simplify and speed up the creation process. These applications can range from simple websites to complex platforms, and include enterprise applications, social networks, and content management systems. 

Additionally, web development involves optimization for different devices and browsers , to ensure a consistent and engaging user experience across all platforms.

Web development applications

Web development applications are tools and platforms that make it easy to create, manage, and improve websites and online applications. These applications include code editors such as Visual Studio Code and Sublime Text, which help developers write and organise code efficiently.

Design tools like Adobe XD and Figma allow you to create interactive UI designs and prototypes . Content management platforms like WordPress and Drupal make it easy to create and manage websites . Additionally, frameworks like React and Angular offer frameworks for developing interactive and dynamic web applications , allowing developers to create digital experiences that are innovative and functional.

Other differences between native, hybrid and web apps

In addition to the differences already seen between native, hybrid and web apps, there are others that range from their costs to their performance.

The most economical applications

The cheapest to develop are web applications , followed by hybrid applications. Native apps are the most expensive. In return, its maintenance is simpler and it offers the best user experience of the three.

Which of these applications has the most native options?

Web apps are also the ones that use the least native options on the devices from which they are run . The hybrids have a few more, and the ones that use them the most , practically all of them, are the native apps .

User experience and access

Native apps are designed for specific operating systems, offering the best user experience by taking advantage of all the features of the device. Hybrid applications, written in web technologies and wrapped in a native container, may have performance limitations. On the other hand, web applications are accessible through the browser and work on various devices, but often lack certain advanced features. Choosing between them depends on project requirements, budget, and user experience expectations.

These are the main differences between native, hybrid and web apps. Everyone who studies to become an application developer knows everything necessary to create them, so if you are interested in developing applications, don’t waste time and train to create them!

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