Native App

Native app definition: Examples, hybrid app comparison & more

What is a native app?

A native app is a software application developed specifically for use on a particular platform or operating system, such as iOS or Android. As native applications are designed for a particular mobile device, they take full advantage of the hardware and software of the device they are built for, resulting in faster performance and a better user experience.

When it comes to installation, native applications are typically installed directly on a user's mobile device. This grants them access to device-specific functions like the camera, microphone, GPS and other hardware features. Moreover, they can also store data on the device and seamlessly communicate with other native apps on the same platform.

What are examples of native apps?

Let's dive into some of the examples of native apps for different platforms:

  • Instagram - a social media app that allows you to effortlessly share photos and videos with your followers
  • Facebook - a popular social network app that lets you connect with your friends, share updates and explore content
  • Google Maps - a navigation app that provides you access to detailed maps, real-time traffic updates and turn-by-turn directions
  • Spotify - a music streaming app that allows you to immerse yourself in an extensive range of songs, create playlists and discover new music
  • WhatsApp - a messaging app that enables you to send texts, make video calls and share media files in real-time
  • Uber - a ride-booking app that allows you to connect with drivers, enabling you to request and pay for rides
  • Airbnb - an app that enables you to book accommodations, including homes, apartments and rooms, for your travels
  • Snapchat - a multimedia messaging app that enables you to send photos and videos that get removed after being viewed
  • Evernote - an app that allows you to create and organise digital notes, memos and to-do lists
  • Candy Crush Saga - a popular mobile game that entices you with its challenge of matching colourful candies to complete levels

What is the difference between native apps and hybrid apps?

Hybrid applications are created by combining native and web applications. These can be accessed via a web browser as well as downloaded from an app store. Below, you can see the major differences between them and native apps 👇

Based on

Native App

Hybrid App


Developed for a particular platform (e.g., iOS or Android)

Used across multiple platforms


High performance and responsiveness as they’re optimised for the specific platform. Also have direct access to the device features, such as camera, GPS, accelerometer and contacts, resulting in a richer user experience

Lower performance and responsiveness as they rely on web technologies to load the content. Also have limited access to device features through APIs, resulting in a compromised user experience

Development time and cost

Building native apps requires separate development efforts for each platform, which increases development time and cost

Hybrid apps have reduced development time and cost since a single codebase can be used across multiple platforms

App store distribution

Native apps need to be distributed through platform-specific mobile app stores, like the Apple App Store or Google Play Store

Hybrid apps can also be distributed through app stores but may face additional restrictions as per app store guidelines

To summarise the above table, native applications are like tailored suits. They fit like a glove, but they take more time and resources to create.

On the other hand, hybrid apps are like one-size-fits-all suits. The sleeves are too long and they’re baggier around the legs, but they’re cheaper to buy and you can wear them sooner.

How do you build a native app?

When creating native apps, you first need to decide on the operating system your mobile application is going to run, whether that’s Android or iOS. This is because each mobile operating system (OS) requires a specific tech stack.

Here are the respective development methods for each OS, plus an alternative method for people who don’t want to create an app from scratch:

Building for iOS

  • Decide your IDE; Xcode is Apple’s official app development software for native iOS app development
  • Choose the programming language; for example, Swift or Objective C/Objective C++
  • Start writing your code in your chosen IDE and language
  • Building for Android

  • Decide your IDE; Xcode is Apple’s official app development software for native iOS app development
  • Choose the app programming language; for example, Swift or Objective C/Objective C++
  • Start writing your code in your chosen IDE and language
  • Building with app development platforms

  • Share your app idea; for example, if you want to sell things, you’ll need an online store
  • Choose a template; based on apps similar to the one you want to create; AI instantly assembles the features saving countless hours of dev time
  • Scope customisations and hand your project over to experts who develop your app

For a deep dive into each of these native app development routes, check out our guide on creating an app 👈

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