It seems like everyone wants a mobile app for their business these days, even if they don’t even know what they want the app to do.  The app market has grown so fast, everyone wants to jump on the app wagon, as everyone should, because apps don’t seem to be going anywhere any time soon.  The question isn’t to get a app or not, as much as it is do I need a native app, or web app.  First things first, get down and dirty with detail on what you want the app to actually accomplish, then you need to think if the app would be best as a native app, a web based app, or a hybrid.   It all depends on functionality needs and your budget.

(Source: Worklight)

Native apps are programmed using Objective C on the iPhone or using Java on Android devices. 

  • Native apps make use of all the phone’s features, such as the mobile phone camera, geolocation, and the user’s address book.
  • Native apps do not need to be connected to the internet to be used.
  • A native app is specific to the mobile handset it is run on, since it uses the features of that specific handset.
  • Native apps can be distributed on the phone’s marketplace (e.g. Apple Store for iPhone or Ovi store for Nokia handsets).

Web apps run in the phone’s browser. 

  • This means the app works across all devices, and ensures cross-platform compatibility.
  • The same base code can be used to support all devices, including iPhone and Android.
  • However, web apps do not make use of the phone’s other features, such as the camera or geolocation.
  • Web apps cannot be deployed to the phone’s marketplace.

Hybrid mobile apps are a mix between these two types of mobile applications. 

  • Using a development framework, companies can develop cross-platform applications that use web technologies (such as HTML, JavaScript and CSS), while still accessing the phone’s features.
  • A hybrid app is a native app with embedded HTML.
  • Selected portions of the app are written using web technologies.
  • The web portions can be downloaded from the web, or packaged within the app.
  • This option allows companies to reap all the benefits of native apps while ensuring longevity associated with well-established web technologies.
  • The Facebook app is an example of a hybrid app; it is downloaded from the app store and has all the features of a native app, but requires updates from the web to function.