Top 7 Popular Types of Software Development You Need to Know

In the decades past, when we heard the term “Software Development”, it meant one thing and one thing only – developing a software program for the computer. Today however, the term has grown and spread out into various branches. Now, when we talk about it, we have to specify from the different types of software development, which can mean anything from developing a website, to creating a program for an embedded system.

There are many different types of software we can develop today, and every day we get closer to discovering another addition to the list. Even those types that we consider time-proven are changing day-by-day, using new and more efficient methodologies, technologies, and processes.

So, the question arises – how can you decide what category of software your business requires?

Read on to find out the top seven most popular software types that businesses are using today, and discover how you can choose a custom software development company for that type of software.

What is Software Development?

Software development, in its simplest definition, refers to creating a program that can be executed on its platform of choice. Now, the term software can encompass many things, especially today. For example, initially, the term software referred to a desktop program.

However, nowadays, it can mean many things. For example, the various types of websites or web apps software. Your mobile app is a software. The programs that run on your smart TV and your Google Home/Amazon Alexa are all software. And the list goes on and on, from apps designed for your wearables, to complex IoT applications or Data Science implementations. Chances are, if you give a development company your software project requirements, they will be able to come up with multiple types of software solutions for it.

To sum it up, creating a software, no matter what kind, can be called software development. And today, it encompasses many domains, including:

  • Web development
  • Mobile app development
  • Video game development
  • Desktop applications development
  • Embedded systems development
  • Cloud computing development
  • Wearables app development

Types of Software Development

Software developer working

Software today comes in many shapes and forms. That is why the term software development has evolved into multiple, more distinct fields. A few of them, like web development, desktop app development, and video game development, have been around for a while. Others however, like wearable app development, are new additions to the list, making them a hot option for those looking for a new niche.

Let’s take a look at a few of the most popular types of software development that are commonly used by businesses nowadays.

Web Development

Let’s start with one of the most popular types of software projects today. Web development refers to the development of websites and web apps. These software can be accessed using a smartphone, PC, tablet, or basically any device that connects to the internet and supports a web browser.

Now, everyone knows what a website does. Web apps however, can vary from implementation to implementation, and are designed according to their prospective function. In order to use them, you need to have two things – a supported device, and internet connectivity. That is because unlike many native apps, web apps need the internet to access their functionality.

Now, you might think that this is a huge drawback to using web apps, but there is also a huge benefit. As the app is implemented server-side instead of on the client side, updates and maintenance can be rolled out instantly for your entire user base. That is because the user doesn’t download anything, making it easy for the developer to update the app on the server in one go.

Web developers today are usually hired to create websites of different varieties. And you will come across many different websites when browsing. Did you find that a few of these websites have some sort of interactive activity, like searching the site’s database or playing online games. These sites are popularly categorized as web apps vs. websites.

Mobile App Development

 Developer testing an app

In recent years, smartphones and tablets have achieved a level of global saturation that allows for businesses to roll out software for them on a mass scale. Those pieces of software are called mobile apps. And today, there are hundreds of thousands of different apps available online, for either of the two popular mobile platforms.

Now, there are no all-in-one mobile app developers. The two big mobile platforms, iOS and Android, have vastly different styles and requirements for app development. Therefore, developers usually have to focus on a single platform to build their apps.

Unlike web apps however, not all mobile apps require a working internet connection to work. Most of them are perfectly capable of operating offline, such as games, tools like calculators and scanners, and others. Only a few apps require that the mobile device be connected to the internet, making it a more versatile option for users compared to web apps.

There are three main types of mobile apps:

  • Native apps are designed specifically for each mobile platform
  • Cross-platform apps work on all supported platforms, but sacrifice a few functional and visual features to do so
  • Hybrid apps utilize the best of both worlds, by essentially developing a web app that is wrapped in a native shell, and needs to be downloaded onto individual devices to work.

Video Game Development

Next up, is video game development. In the early years, your average software developers, due to their simplistic nature, developed video games. Today however, video games are in a league of their own. Nowadays, video game developers require a lot more in terms of software development, such as experience with gaming engines, motion capture character implementations, extensive 3D designs, and more.

However, the advent of freely available gaming engines mean that developing games is no longer restricted to huge game studios. Even small, niche teams can create indie games that can compete with AAA titles easily.

Desktop Development

Desktop development – the grandfather of software development. Among the different types of software development mentioned in this article, software development for the desktop environment is by far the oldest of the options.

Desktop apps refer to the software that we run on our PCs and laptops, tools that can run with or without the internet. Common examples include the Office Suite we use on our PCs, any games, media players, and more.

Some of the most common types of desktop apps are:

  • Microsoft app development
  • Linux app development
  • iOS app development

Wearables App Development

Woman using her smart watch

Wearables are a comparatively new addition to the industry, which refers to any kind of mobile-connected device that is worn on the body. Nowadays, that can include devices like smart watches, health bands, headwear, eyewear, shoes, and even textiles now.

In recent years, the wearables industry has seen a massive boom. More and more people are buying these devices, such as smart watches and fitness trackers, and according to studies, the industry is expected to grow at an annual compound growth rate of 22.5% till 2026, in the US alone.

Apps for these devices are developed in the native environment. The apps for the Apple Watch are developed using Swift, Apple’s proprietary programming language. Samsung’s Galaxy Watch, the nearest competitor to Apple for smart watches, uses a mix of Native C, .NET, Tizen, and more, while Fitbit’s Sense uses apps developed using JavaScript.

Cloud Computing

Cloud computing is another new entry to the list of various types of software development. It is designed around the concept of moving data storage away from local machines, and into large, remote data servers. The aim was to provide a secure and economical solution to data backups.

Today however, cloud computing has become more than just a means of storing data. There are cloud services providers like Google and Amazon Web Services, that are designed to rent out server space to people for a price, set by the amount of server space rented or the bandwidth opted for.

Many large enterprises that deal with large amounts of data that needs storage or processing, opt for cloud solutions, which is why industrial or healthcare software development now usually includes a cloud services integration.

Embedded Systems Development

Engineer testing a circuit prototype

Finally, embedded systems software development can be considered both a new addition as well as one of the oldest. Embedded systems refers to the microcontroller-based devices that are used in industries around the world. In the earlier days, developers used assembly commands or in the later years, languages like C to program these microcontrollers.

However, in recent years, the concept of reprogrammable microcontrollers has become quite popular, especially with the advent of Arduino and its peers. Now, developers can program and implement a variety of software programs using different languages like C, C++, Python and more.

How Can You Get a Custom Software Solution Developed For Your Company?

Knowing the types of software development can help you understand what type of a software solution you need for your business. But how are you supposed to get it developed, especially if you are not a software development company yourself?

There are ways you can get a software solution that suits your business needs. Let’s discuss the pros and cos of each of these options.

  • Buy an off-the-shelf solution for your business. Many companies sell generic solutions that are designed to help any type of company improve its business. One of the most common examples is that of HRM software solutions, whose off-the-shelf options are used by many SMBs, and even large corporations sometimes.

These solutions are quite generic, and will often fail to address the specific issues that plague your organizations, thus failing to have the intended impact.

  • Hire a freelance developer to develop it for you. Now, if you have a small company, or are short on budget, chances are you might not be able to hire a professional software development firm. In that case, knowing how to hire a software developer for your business project can help you develop a custom software solution.

However, unless they are a fullstack developer, and you are going for a web solution, chances are the resultant software solution will not be as effective as you hope.

  • Engage the services of a professional software development company. These companies have years of experience under their belts, and often have large, highly skilled teams of professional developers. And they are your best option for getting a robust, custom-tailored software solution.


In short, there are many types of software development today, and each of these types has its own niche to address. A business owner needs to identify the types of software solutions that would suit their business needs, before embarking on the software development process.

And once you know the kind of software solution you need, you can choose from your preferred option to get a reliable, feature-rich, software solution for your company.


What are the four types of software?
There are four main categories of software:
– Application software
– System software
– Programming software (IDEs etcetera)
– Driver software
What are the most popular types of software developers?
While there are many different types of software developers available, some of the most popular include:
– Web developers
– Mobile app developers
– Video game developers
– Data science developers
– AI/ ML developers
How many types of software development are there?
While there are many different types of software that can be developed today, the popular ones include:
– Websites and web apps
– Video games
– Data solutions
– Cloud solutions
– Mobile apps
Who are the highest paid software developers in the world?
The salaries for developers can vary due to a large number of factors, including geographical location, preferred technology stack, their industry experience, and more. However, some of the highest paid developers usually include:
– Software architects
– Data scientists
– AI/ML engineers
– DevOps engineers
– Fullstack developers
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