App development is nothing new but the different types of app development software just seem to keep innovating and changing. (It’s a blessing and a curse.) It can be a whirl-wind as a newcomer to the tech industry to understand the difference between no-code or low-code. Why would you want to build a native mobile app vs. a hybrid app vs. a web app vs. a Progressive Web App (PWA)? Let’s dive into the different types of app building software you may come across as you try to figure out what your app-building process may look like. You May Not Need an App DeveloperHave you come across the term citizen developer throughout your research? I’m going to guess more likely yes than no. This new movement of citizen developers is all due to the innovation of low-code and no-code platforms. No code is the ability to build an app with absolutely no coding required. This means every single person in your business with access to a computer and the internet can become an app builder. Typically, this type of software is very user friendly often with drag and drop capabilities. A good example of a no-code platform with drag and drop capabilities is Appy Pie. Along is a simple user experience, most of the no code platforms will have integrations with your tech stack that you will want to incorporate in an app. (Think YouTube, Vidyard, Google Analytics, Calendly, and so much more.) You won’t need to hire a developer to add integrations into your app which will save time and money. Low code, however, combines the ease and quickness of no code but with the flexibility to further customize your app by using your own code. Basically, it allows citizen developers to build apps with or without code. For example, most low code platforms have a library of reusable building blocks that can be assembled to create numerous types of apps. These platforms also provide the ability for developers to write their own code to extend the functionality provided by the platform or create a custom solution for their business needs. Lumavate is a great example of a low code app development platform. You can build your own app without code or using any coding language to customize your app. In many ways, a low code platform brings together the citizen developer and traditional developer and enables them to do what they’re best at.Types of Apps Whether you decide to create your next app with a team of developers using code, choose to use a low code platform, or decide to empower your citizen developers with a no-code platform; you’ll need to know what type of app you will be creating. The above types of software can be used to build a handful of different types of apps ranging from native apps, web apps, hybrid apps, all the way to PWAs. Let’s take a quick look at what each has to offer.
Native Mobile Apps - Native mobile apps are what you think about most of the time when you hear the word app. They are apps that you can download from an app store and work on a specific operating system (iOS or Android).
Web Apps - Web apps are web-based applications that live behind a URL instead of on a device’s operating system. Most web apps need to have a connection to the internet to be used. If you’ve ever been in the Salesforce platform you have most likely seen what a web application looks like and acts like. It doesn’t need to be downloaded onto your device to be accessed.
Hybrid Apps - Hybrid apps are pretty much a web app wrapped in a native app shell. They act like web apps besides having the ability to live in an app store and be downloaded to your device. These apps must live and be updated through Apple, Google, Microsoft, etc. app stores. An example of a hybrid app is Phonegap (formerly known as Apache Cordova).
PWAs - Progressive Web Apps are the best of native mobile apps and the web. PWAs allow you to have an app that functions similarly to a native mobile app (ex: geolocation, ability to save to the home screen, etc.) but is housed behind a URL. Meaning, PWAs are bringing the native functionalities to the web! The added benefit of PWAs is the fact they can be accessed through multiple channels outside of an app store such as NFC, QR codes, and SMS. Plus, you don’t have to go through the app store approval process every time you want to update your app.
We went over the high levels of what types of app development software that is available to you to use outside of the traditional coding experience while also focusing on what types of apps a no code app builder can help you and your team develop. There is a wealth of information out there to better understand each area but this hopefully got your wheels turning on what may work best for your team and the different types of app software available.