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Types of Mobile Apps

Before you start learning the ways to test a mobile app, it's very important to understand the different types of mobile apps currently present in the market.

Mobile apps can be categorized into 3 main types:

  1. Native Mobile Apps
  2. Mobile Web Apps
  3. Hybrid Apps

1. Native Mobile Apps

  • built using vendor provided SDKs and API
  • iOS – Swift, Objective-C, compiled with XCode
  • Android – Java, Kotlin, compiled with Android Studio

Native apps are applications customized to mobile Operating System (OS) that feature unique designs and codebases. These apps are built using vendor provided SKs and APIs. As Apple and Android are considered the movers and shakers in the mobile industry, therefore we'll keep our focus on these two main device vendors.

Native Apps designed for Apple (iOS)

If the app is designed for Apple devices it uses Swift and/or Objective-C as the programming language. These apps are build using Apple XCode that is and IDE (integrated development environment) for macOS. It contains a suite of software development tools developed by Apple for developing software for macOS, iOS, iPadOS, watchOS, and tvOS.

Native Apps designed for Android

Android Apps are mainly programmed using Java or Kotlin. These apps are build using Android Studio that is the official Integrated Development Environment (IDE) for Android app development.

Users download these native apps on their devices from Application stores like App Store (iOS) and Google Play Store (Android). Once downloaded, these apps can be launched by tapping the App icon.

Why Native Apps?

Native mobile apps are designed specifically for mobiles, therefore these apps offer best user experience. The native apps run faster and smooter because they are able to use more resources and features of the device. However, having direct access to device resources and features, these apps sometimes slow down the background processes. It all depends on the quality of the native app and how it was developed. That makes it very important to keep performance considerations in mind while designing & testing a native mobile app.

2. Mobile Web App

  • Web app accessed using mobile browser, developed using html+CSS+JS

These are the web apps developed using html, CSS and different JavaScripts frameworks. These apps are launched via mobile web browsers.These web apps are designed as responsive apps. They need fewer device resources as modern mobile browsers need minimal CPU and space.

These days, all businesses want their mobile presence to stay competitive in the market. Designing a mobile web app is a faster & a cheaper process than designing an application. Therefore, usually businesses start by having a mobile web app and then move to a native app when they want to present better user experience to their mobile users.

3. Hybrid Apps

  • A combination of native & mobile web app
  • Web app content displayed using web view
  • Web view can load local or remote web content

Hybrid Apps are a combination of native & mobile web apps. In Hybrid apps, some functionality is designed as native app while other parts of the app provide an access to web-based contents. These web-based contents are displayed using Web Views. Let's see what we exactly mean by a Web View.

What is a Web View?

  • Native UI component that provides access to web-based contents
  • Used to show web content to the user within the native app

Web View is a native UI component that provides access to web-based contents. These web views show web content to the user within the native app.