Types of Apps: What are they and how do they differ?

Have you ever heard of the term apps, application software, or similar? In computing, the software is a program that performs specific tasks required by a user.

In this entry we will explain the main types of applications, these are:

  • Web applications
  • Mobile applications
  • Desktop applications
  • Hybrid or Multiplatform applications

What are Web Apps?

These are web applications that do not require any installation on your device since this web app is installed on a remote server so that you can use it without any further issues than performing a search in your favorite browser.

The great advantage of these applications is that they are compatible with any platform, there is no need to develop different apps for each operating system. In addition, it does not require the user to update these applications on each device, as these modifications are uploaded to the remote server where the software is hosted.
The only disadvantage is that you need an internet connection to use these applications. In addition, to be used in different devices, the design must be adapted to the dimensions that correspond in each case (responsive design).


As additional information, it should be noted that web apps use web development programming languages such as HTML, JavaScript, or CSS.

Web applications can be classified according to the following types:

Static web application

It is used when there is little information and we do not want to update any of the content. It is difficult to modify anything in this type of app since it requires downloading, modifying, and reloading the code to be able to visualize the modifications.

Dynamic web applications

These are more complex than the previous ones at a technical level since databases are used to load information and update the content each time a user accesses the web software.

They usually have a control panel (CMS, Content Management System) from which content is managed, created, and published without the need to be a programmer.


Web applications with a content management system

This is the most commonly used when frequent content modifications are required. For this purpose, a content management system (CMS) is used to make the desired modifications and updates.

Some of the most widely used CMS today is WordPress (free) and Shopify (paid for e-Commerce).

Apps for e-Commerce or online store

This case would be similar to the previous one but it focuses on optimizing the user’s online shopping experience. The CMS most commonly used here is the already mentioned Shopify or WooCommerce (integrated with WordPress) which allows you to manage your online store (payments, stocks, logistics, etc.).

What are Mobile Apps?

Mobile applications are those designed to be used in mobile devices to provide solutions in the user’s daily life. Mobile applications are usually simpler than the software used on the web or desktop but they are used to offer the key functionalities with which the user can manage sufficiently, either consulting information or performing tasks that do not require high analysis and complexity.

On platforms such as Google Play (Android) or the App Store (Apple), you can find an infinite number of applications available. In addition, from these, you can install other custom applications such as those that can be made for computer use but for more functional uses because these devices have less power than a laptop or desktop computer.

Some of the most commonly used languages, in this case, are Kotlin (recommended by Google for Android) and Swift (recommended by Apple for iOS).


Let’s not forget desktop applications

Desktop apps allow the development of applications such as those mentioned above, but with greater complexity than mobile apps (computers are more powerful) and desktop apps require installation and updates on each of the devices on which the software is being used.


What do we mean by hybrid/multi-platform applications?

These are those that try to understand the best of each of the types mentioned above, allowing them to be used on the web, desktop, or mobile. Depending on your needs, you can work online or offline (depending on the required functionalities).

To program cross-platform apps languages such as HTML5, CSS or JavaScript are usually used and the connection between the database and your application is made through APIs.

App Type Comparison

The following table shows a comparison of the main characteristics of the types of applications discussed in this post.

Installation in the device
Internet connection
Not always necessary
Not always necessary
Maintenance cost
Device requirements
Development time and cost

Our conclusions…

After reading all this information you may be wondering, what kind of app do I need for me or my company? Here we go with our recommendations:

  • If you have a bad internet connection (permanent internet drops, or poor performance) you should discard the option of web applications. If connectivity is not a problem and you have a team of many people, the option of web software would be the best.
  • In case you have basic functional needs or you just need to consult some information in an interactive way, web applications should be your choice.
  • When solutions of a certain complexity are required, a more robust device will be needed, so either desktop or web applications are recommended.
  • If what you are looking for is for your software to run on different devices at the same time, you will need the information to be connected between them, so you will have to resort to multiplatform solutions.

If you have any questions or would like to discuss more specific cases, please contact us, we will be glad to answer you.