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Mobile Apps vs Web Apps: Which is the Better Option?

Today, we’re going to look at the mobile app vs web app debate. In this article, we will go over both sides of the story, so you can decide which option is the right business decision for your company. 

The question of whether to build a mobile app or web app can leave you spinning. There are pros and cons to both, but it’s important to know the benefits of each for you (or your clients) to make an informed decision about what is best for your business.

First up, let’s get into the details, explaining what a mobile app and a web app are.

What is a Mobile App?

A mobile app (or “smartphone app”) is an application designed to be used on a mobile phone, tablet, or other portable devices that operates on the same principles as a computer.

Mobile apps are generally downloaded from online stores such as Google Play and Apple’s App Store; however, they can also be downloaded through other means, such as carrier provisioning.

Mobile apps are made to take advantage of the unique features of mobile devices, or they are adapted for them. For example, an app may use the phone’s sensors (location, speedometer), have a touchscreen interface, utilize push notifications for receiving messages and updates from servers without running in the background, and support more than one type of hardware input (e.g., GPS, cameras).

What is a Web App?

A web app (or “web application”) is basically any computer program that runs on web servers and is accessed via a web browser. Web apps are different from software programs downloaded to the computer that relies on the computer’s operating system to run.

Web apps are usually accessed by typing a web address directly into the browser or clicking on a link that navigates to it. 

Once loaded, most web apps behave as regular desktop applications would inside your browser’s window – they can load files from the computer you’re using, connect with online services, and provide rich user interfaces.

Differences between Mobile Apps and Web Apps: How They’re Developed

Mobile apps

Native mobile apps are built specifically for a certain platform, e.g., iOS or Android. They’re coded using programming languages and Integrated Development Environments (IDE) specific to each mobile device. iOS apps are written in Objective C or Swift using Xcode IDE, while Android apps are written in Kotlin or Java in Android Studio or Eclipse IDE.

Web apps

Web apps, on the other hand, are not platform-specific. They’re written in HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, making them cross-platform compatible. It also allows web apps to be run on any device with a web browser, whether it’s a desktop computer, laptop, tablet, or smartphone. Generally, web apps have fewer features and tend to be easier and faster to build than mobile apps.

Mobile Apps vs. Web Apps: Pros and Cons

Pros of Mobile Apps 

  • Speed: Mobile apps are faster
  • Offline Use: mobile apps can be used offline, while web apps cannot.  
  • Convenience: mobile apps are generally quicker and easier to use than web apps. 
  • Functionality: mobile apps can take advantage of the device’s resources, which gives them a wide range of functions
  • Security: native mobile apps tend to be safer and secure

Cons of Mobile Apps 

  • Cost: Usually more expensive to develop than web apps. Learn more about the app development cost here
  • Require Updates: mobile apps may require updates more often than web apps, as new versions are released. It can be inconvenient for users, particularly if they cannot update their devices every time an app is updated. 
  • Device incompatibility: native mobile apps would only work on specific platforms (i.e. iOS or Android), meaning less reach and different development processes for each app.
  • App store approval: approval is required from the respective app stores 

Pros of Web Apps 

  • Online Access: web apps are usually accessed through a browser, meaning users only need to be connected to the internet to use them. They can also take advantage of your user’s browsing habits and pre-existing data from their browser. 
  • Platform Agnostic: as long as they have a phone or computer with a web browser, users can access your web app. 
  • Easier Maintenance – Unlike mobile apps, web applications do not need to be updated regularly. It can save you time and money since you don’t need to worry about keeping the application updated.
  • There is no need for a download or installation.
  • Web applications are quicker and less technical to create.
  • Developers can quickly release them because they are not subjected to app store approval.

Cons of Web Apps 

  • No Native Functionality: since web apps are essentially just websites, they cannot take advantage of a device’s native features (e.g., GPS, cameras). This flaw can be a disadvantage for users who want to use the app’s features with their device. 
  • Slower Loading Times: web apps usually take longer to load than mobile apps, as they load more data. 
  • Require an Internet Connection: to use a web app, app users must be connected to the internet. 

Mobile Apps vs Web Apps: What’s the verdict?

Well, it depends on what your business needs are. When it comes to choosing between a mobile app or a web app, there are a few key areas that you should consider. 

  • Platform: some platforms, such as iOS, only allow native apps to be downloaded from their store, which can limit your audience. Web apps do not have this issue, as they are platform-agnostic and can be accessed through any device with a web browser.
  • Security: if you’re looking for the most secure option, mobile apps are the way to go. 
  • Offline Use: mobile apps can be used offline, while web apps cannot. 
  • User Experience: mobile apps generally have a better user experience than web apps, as they are designed specifically for mobile devices. 

Bottom Line: Mobile Apps vs Web Apps

Mobile apps and web apps each have their advantages and disadvantages, so it’s important to do your research before deciding which option is right for your company. Mobile apps can be more expensive to develop if you create an app from scratch. Still, they offer the potential for brand recognition, increased sales and revenue, greater engagement with customers, greater customer satisfaction ratings, and increased productivity.

Web applications are often more cost-effective since you create a single version of your company’s website that users can access from any device connected to the internet. However, they can be less engaging with customers, offer lower brand recognition, and are less customizable than mobile apps. Since there are fewer restrictions on web applications, they also offer greater flexibility to your customers.

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