There are 3 types of mobile applications:
1. Native Applications: Applications that you install on your device by downloading them from an app store.
These apps typically provide a rich user experience, because they are built specifically for a particular device’s hardware. On the downside, for each device you plan to support, you’ll need to build a specific version of your app. It will also need to be redownloaded by the user each time an update is available.
2. Mobile Web Applications: Applications that run on a web server, and are accessed by typing in a domain name on the device’s web browser, using an internet connection.
These are not regular web sites, but specifically built sites that optimize the mobile experience. They provide the same look and feel of native apps but require internet connection to execute. Updates are done like updates are done on a web site. There is nothing for the user to do.
3. Hybrid Applications: Applications that get the advantages of both native and mobile web applications.
These apps can start as either a mobile web or a native app, and then use an element, feature or component of the other as needed.
By developing a hybrid app you can feature your application on the app stores, and you can use extended features of the phone like the camera or geo-location. You will still need to build a specific app version for each supported device.