Smartphone app development is a bit different from our traditional web app development and Desktop Development. Mobile device offers a lot more than what a desktop or a browser can offer. Things like GPS , Voice Calling , Touch Screen , Instant Notifications, Camera , Audio, Video , Social apps on the go and many other facilities. The bottom line is that a smartphone can do things and make life easier for the user in a number of ways and hence the apps on a smartphone should also follow same protocol.

We do not develop for a smartphone but we rather develop for a ‘Smartphone operating system’. There are a lot of smartphone and with different OS. But the 3 major Smartphone OS’s are the iOS, Android and the Windows.

Let’s look at the different ways to approach mobile application development for the major OS’s mentioned above.

Native Development

This is the most popular and most used method of development. It uses the OS direct libraries and native language for development. It is fast, efficient, flexible, and you can create the most enriched UI and UX with this. This method creates an app in the app store which you can download and install. It runs directly on the OS and not on the browser or any other VM or Runtime on the OS.

For Android there is Android Studio for native App development which uses Java as its native programming language

For iOS there is XCode, whereas for native App development which uses Objective C as its native programming language


    • Flexible
    • Efficient
    • Easy to use and develop
    • Great Performance
    • Can use all features of the OS
    • Very Rich UI and UX


  • For every different OS you need to make a different project and recreate the entire app from scratch
  • Maintenance of the different codebase for different OS can prove to be a blocker.
  • Need to learn different Languages and environment to develop for different OS’s

HTML5 Web Apps

With the current progress in HTML5 and cross browser development, HTML5 web Apps are certainly in demand. It runs on the Browser. It’s like a simple web site, the only difference being that this web site is customized for the smaller screen sizes and for the varied screen resolutions. It can also take advantage of certain OS features like Location, camera etc but not all due to security protocols. So all in all it’s called a web app.

HTML5, CSS3 can be used to create HTML5 web apps. CSS3 includes some graphic improvements so animations can be done. UI and UX can be moderately rich.


    • Easy to use and develop.
    • For all OS and Smartphones you just need one code base.
  • Easy to Maintain.
  • Don’t need to learn different Languages and environment to develop for different OS’s


  • Below Par Performance.
  • Not Efficient.
  • Cannot use all features of OS due to security protocols.
  • UI and UX lack the touch and feel of Native UI. Lag and Performance also affect the User Experience.

Hybrid Development

Keeping in mind the advantages of Web Apps and Disadvantages of Native app, developers thought they needed something that might be a balance between the two, more like best of both worlds. That’s where Hybrid development into the picture.

It started as a native app container which can run HTML pages inside the native app thus exposing the native application advantages but at the same time being able to run html and html5 which meant that maintenance was easy.

So Hybrid app is a basically a native app which runs HTML and CSS and JavaScript. So you can develop a hybrid app into the app store, download and install it just like a native app. What it does is that it has a webkit engine which at runtime converts your html code to native UI.  Performance is slightly affected due to this as compared to Native App Development but you get all the features of Native app as well as all the perks of HTML5 web apps.

Some examples of Hybrid App Development are Iconic Framework, Cordova etc.

These frameworks gives you an SDK with which you can create the Hybrid Apps using HTML5 and CSS3 and JavaScript and run , test  build the app as a native app.


  • Very Flexible.
  • Easy to use and develop.
  • For all OS and Smartphones you just need one code base.
  • Easy to Maintain.
  • Moderately Efficient
  • Can use all features of OS
  • Don’t need to learn different Languages and environment to develop for different OS’s.


  • Performance is not as good as native apps
  • UI and UX are not as good as native app but better than HTML5 web apps.

So to summarize each way of development has its own unique advantages and disadvantages. If learning different environment and languages and maintaining diff codebase for each OS is not an issue then definitely Native app is for you.  Start with Android Studio for Android, Xcode for iOS.

If you are willing to sacrifice a bit of performance in return for ease of maintenance of code then surely Hybrid App development is great. Iconic, Cordova are some of the frameworks for Hybrid apps. You can use any one or some other framework that you come across.

And if you just want to create a very simple utility or website with not much complex data operations and not much OS features involved then Web Apps can do the trick. All you need is to learn HTML5, CSS3.

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