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Mobile Apps vs. Web Apps: Pros and Cons

Many believe that native mobile apps and web apps are the same. The fact is, they are vastly different. The difference between a mobile app and a web app lies in aspects such as how they are developed and deployed and how different they are for the user. 

To understand the differences clearly, let us first see what a web app is. And how different is it from a website? A web app is a fluid design of a website that can be viewed via a smartphone. Whereas some websites are not updated frequently and contain static information, others are updated now and then because of the nature of the information. Web apps behave just like apps that can be downloaded, however, they can be viewed via browsers and they also respond just like other mobile apps do.  

Mobile apps vs. web apps: Differences 

Let us first see what the striking differences between mobile and web apps are. 

Mobile apps are: 

  • Built with a specific platform in mind (iOS/Android)

  • They are installed via an app store and they use the system resources (camera, GPS, etc.)

  • They reside and run on the device they are downloaded onto. 

Web apps are: 

  • They are accessed via the Internet browser

  • They adapt to the device on which they are viewed

  • They do not have to be downloaded or installed on a device

  • They are not native to any system

  • They are responsive and function like mobile apps 

Building Mobile Apps 

How are mobile apps built? They are more expensive to create than web apps, more so because they are specific to each platform. So the design and development have to be from scratch every time they are built for a different platform. Mobile apps work fast and always are more advanced as regards functions and features. 

Mobile apps are created with specific languages and IDEs depending on the platform for which the app is intended. For Apple devices the commonly used development languages are Objective-C/Swift, and the IDE is Xcode. Native Android apps are written in Java and built using Android Studio/Eclipse IDE. Both Google and Apple provide their SDKs which developers can use to build native apps. 

Building web apps 

Web apps are usually built using JavaScript/CSS/HTML/ Python etc. Web apps do not have standard software development kits available. However, developers use templates when building web apps. It is easier to build web apps and also quicker when compared to mobile apps. They also have simpler features.

 Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) 

PWAs offer more functionality than regular web apps. They are very fast and also work when offline. They work this way owing to the advancements made in browser technology. The application Cache feature that is present in modern browsers helps to store large amounts of data even when offline. 

PWAs, when used without an Internet connection, enable them to function like typical native mobile apps including push notifications, native audio and video capture, and native video playback. PWAs need not be downloaded or installed. Therefore, these are apps that offer the best features of web and mobile apps put together. 

Mobile and Web Apps: Pros and Cons 

Mobile Apps  

Pros

  • They are faster than web apps

  • They can access system resources and therefore more features and functionality can be incorporated

  • They are safer to use as they have to be first approved by the Play Store

  • It is easier to build them as there are more SDKs and other developer tools that are available

  • They can work offline

  • They can be personalized

  • They are more popular

  • They help to improve customer loyalty and retention 

Cons:

  • Usually, separate versions are built for different platforms

  • They are costlier to build

  • They are more expensive to maintain

  • The App store does not easily approve native apps

  • Cross-platform versions do not offer complete support for every feature of the OS

  • It is necessary to obtain approval from the markets where they are released 

Web Apps 

Pros: 

  • There is no requirement to download or install the app, they function via the browser

  • Having a single codebase across different mobile platforms, they are easier to maintain

  • They can be easily integrated with other mobile features like QR codes/text messaging

  • They update themselves

  • They are faster to build when compared to mobile apps

  • They can be launched easily and quickly as they do not require any App Store approval

  • You can reach out to a wider Audience because of multi-device compatibility

  • Easier to bring about changes as the change has to be made in just a single version 

Cons

  • They do not work when offline

  • They are likely to have fewer features than mobile apps

  • They are slower to execute

  • They are not as easy to find out as mobile apps from the Play Store

  • They are not stamped by any App Store for approval and so may not be as secure

  • It is not easy to surf the content of a website on a mobile device

  • In mobile websites, it is difficult to fit all content into a single page 

Which one to Choose – Mobile Apps vs. Web Apps 

Whether you want to build a mobile app or a web app, this decision should be made according to marketing goals, brand positioning and market strategy. You should choose the option that would give you the best results. If you want to reach out to the audience via a mobile, it is reasonable to include a mobile app and a mobile website as well in your strategy.