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Types of Mobile Apps – Mobile Web vs Native vs Hybrid App

The connected world of the Internet of Things (IoT) is evolving at an enormous pace. It is well-known that IoT has already revolutionized the industrial sector and is gradually gaining momentum in the consumer appliances market. This has led to a lot of speculation around how IoT will become an intrinsic part of our daily lives in the near future.

In line with this, a new stream of product development services has evolved – the IoT application development services. This includes the design and development of intuitive mobile apps that can be easily integrated with an IoT infrastructure to send and receive signals for controlling connected IoT devices.

Let’s take a deep dive into the different types of mobile apps that can be developed for an enterprise/industrial/home automation IoT solution.

Different Types of Mobile Apps for IoT Applications

IoT mobile apps can be categorized into three types, as described below:

  • Native Apps – These apps are commonly found for download on the Play Store. A native app appears on a mobile phone as an icon, which opens up the application upon clicking.Native apps are built for specific platforms and coded in languages suited for the platform.These apps can be developed in the following ways:
    • Using tools provided by the OS manufacturer – Native apps can be developed through native Software Development Kits (SDKs) that the platform provides, i.e., iOS SDK, Android SDK, etc.
    • Using cross-platform tools – It is possible to develop native apps through cross-platform tools such as Xamarin, RhoMobile, etc.
  • Mobile Web Apps – This category constitutes one of the most commonly used practices of designing a website today – a Responsive Web Design (RWD). A responsive web app renders a website in a way that it is fully functional and looks good too! In other words, the design of a responsive web app is such that it fits any form factor, type of device (desktop, mobile or tablet) and operating system.More recently, an enhancement to the responsive web design has resulted in the existence of Progressive Web Apps (PWAs). This is essentially a hybrid between a regular web page and a native mobile app. A progressive web app app is designed to appear like a native app to users.Some of the key features of a progressive web app are as follows:
    • Has access to push notifications, unlike standard web apps
    • Will have a simple icon on the home screen
    • Can be launched in full screen
    • Responsive design
    • Ability to function offline or on low-quality networks
    • The app shell model enables app-style interaction and navigation
    • Instant updates possible
    • Easy installation at the click of a link
  • Hybrid Apps – These apps are essentially a combination of web apps and native apps. Technically, a hybrid app is a web app that has the look and feel of a native app. This is achieved through the deployment of a wrapper that acts as a bridge between native and web platforms.Hybrid apps consist of the back-end code that is developed using languages like CSS, JavaScript or HTML. The app also consists of a native shell that loads the code through a webview.
    • Hybrid apps do not run inside a browser, but on the device itself. In that sense, it is very similar to a native app. However, it is developed using web technologies and is underpinned by a hybrid app framework.
    • A hybrid app utilizes the browser engine of the device (not the browser) to process the backend code and render the HTML.
    • The presence of a web-to-native abstraction layer enables the app to access the device’s camera, local storage, accelerometer, etc. Traditional mobile web apps are not capable of accessing device hardware/capabilities such as these.


Mobile Web vs Native vs Hybrid Apps – Which One Should You Choose?

Here is a side-by-side comparison of the three types of mobile apps. This will help you in deciding the most optimum one for your IoT business application.

FeatureNative AppHybrid AppMobile Web App
CostHighestLower upfront cost, but significant maintenance costMost economical option
User Experience and PerformanceBestGoodSuboptimal
Access to device hardwareComplete accessComplete accessNo access
SecurityHighly secureGood securityProne to security threats
Network accessInternet connection is not mandatory for operationInternet connection is not mandatory for operationRequires internet connection for operation
Single codebaseAbsentPresentPresent
Suited for long-term investmentMost optimumOptimumNot suitable

If you are in a quandary while deciding on the right IoT mobile app for your business, you should think about the use case for which you are developing the app.

  • In case you need the development activities to be completed within a restricted timeframe, you can explore the option of developing a mobile web app. This will provide you responsiveness across a wide range of platforms and a host of other benefits.
  • If you are not pressed for time, and would like to integrate multiple complex features in the app, it is prudent to target your efforts on the development of a native app.
  • Remember, hybrid apps provide you several advantages that are offered by native apps with lot less complexity.

In case you are still at the crossroads and unable to make up your mind, give us a shout!

Leverage our decade-long experience in the realm of IoT mobile app development for crafting cutting-edge mobile applications for your business requirements.

Meet Our IoT Leaders


With 18 years of work experience and an inherent ability to strategize and provide direction to the company’s objectives, Sagar heads the IoT Business Unit at Embitel. His leadership and team management skills are exemplary.

His ability to resolve customer pain points through innovative business solutions has earned him the nickname, “The Master of all IoT Trades”, within his circle.

Vidya Sagar Jampani, Business Unit Head (IoT)
(The Master of all ‘IoT Trades’!)

A hands-on leader who combines technical acumen with well-defined interpersonal skills, Girish has the ability to forge long-lasting relationships with customers.

He leverages his domain experience of 13 years as a Project Manager and Solution Architect to design and develop innovative business solutions on Mobile, PC & other platforms for a wide range of business domains.

Girish Nair | Project Manager and Strategist (IoT)
(Wizard of Apps)
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