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Web Apps vs. Mobile Apps: Select one or both?

mobile applications

There exists a misconception that mobile applications and web applications are the same, but in fact, the two are actually very different. Not only is there a difference for the user, but they develop and implement differently, so it is important not to confuse them.

In this article, we will learn how it can be useful to distinguish between web applications and websites. Simply put, a web app is a website designed in a fluid, responsive way to be viewed on a smartphone. There are many different types of websites. Some of them are stationary and rarely updated, while others have a high degree of responsiveness and interactivity. Let us see:

  1. What are native mobile apps and web apps?
  2. What are their differences in design, connection, and construction?
  3. Why is it important to take into account the frequency of use and the hardware of the mobile phone?
  4. What types of application programming languages exist?
  5. What do we mean by Store Dependency?
  6. Which type of app should your company use?
  7. What is the cost difference between mobile apps and web apps?
  8. Which one should you choose between the two?

1. What are native mobile apps and web apps?

Native mobile apps are for a specific platform, such as iOS or Android. People download and install them through an app store. This provides access to system resources such as GPS and camera functionality.  Mobile applications reside and run on the device itself. TikTok, Instagram, Google Maps and Facebook Messenger are a few examples of popular mobile apps.

Web apps, on the other hand, are only through the Internet browser and will adapt to any mobile device. They are not native to a particular system and are not required to download or install anything. Due to their responsive nature, they actually look and function very much like mobile applications. This brings up the confusion.

Let us consider a native app versus its web version. You must install the application from your mobile and then access it through your phone’s browser. This you will notice that the web application has been made to look like the native mobile application. For example, things like the browser bar, and when we scroll down.

2. What are their differences in design, connection, and construction?

Although the designs look similar and follow the same font and color scheme, they represent essentially two different products. Web applications need an Internet connection to work. Mobile applications can run offline.

Mobile applications have the advantage of being faster and more efficient, but require the user to download updates periodically. Web applications will update themselves. Above all, mobile apps and web apps have very different designs and construction. To further differentiate between the two, it is helpful to understand how each is developed.

Web applications are typically created using JavaScript, CSS and HTML5. Unlike mobile applications, there is no standard software development kit for creating web applications. However, developers have access to templates. Compared to mobile applications, web applications are usually faster. They are also easy to build, but simpler in terms of features.

2.1 Advantages and disadvantages of mobile applications?

We must always consider the advantages and disadvantages before deciding the type of application we choose to design. That means that here we show you the most important ones, in order to reach the best decision for you and your company.

In the advantages, we have, faster than web applications, with greater functionality as they have access to system resources. It can work offline because mobile phones have their own network. They have proven to provide greater security. Also, they have become easier to create due to the availability of developer tools, interface elements and SDKs.

On the other hand, mobile applications are more expensive to build than web applications. Compatibility with different platforms (i.e. iOS and Android) usually means designing and building the app from zero for both cases. Costly to maintain and update. In addition, keep in mind that it can get difficult to obtain app store approval for a native application.

2.2 What are the benefits and drawbacks of web applications?

We all use mobile applications. They are the most downloaded in the market, but the truth is that web applications also have perfect functionalities for companies. Many people are unaware of them, and that is why we want to tell you about their advantages, so you can make the right decision for your convenience.

Starting with the advantages, web applications run in the browser so there is no need to download or install them, and they are easy to maintain, have a common code base regardless of the mobile platform. Faster and easier to build than mobile applications, and unlike mobile apps, they do not require app store approval, so they can be launched quickly.

They also have important disadvantages, the main one being that they do not work offline. They come slower than mobile applications and have less advanced features. In addition, they may not have the same visibility as mobile apps, since they are not included in a specific database. Quality and security cannot always guarantee in web applications, as they do not need the approval of any app store.

3. Why is it important to take into account the frequency of use and the hardware of the mobile phone?

A great advantage of mobile apps is the ease of access to the application through a shortcut on the desktop of your device or a search in a store. This ease is actually an advantage when we expect users to access the app on a recurring basis, as it can become cumbersome if your app is one-time use.

As a user, you tend to feel more likely to want to download an app if you plan to use it frequently. If it is a one-time use app, “you may simply discourage me from downloading it by not giving permissions to the app on my phone.”

If the functionalities of your project include using the camera or the microphone of the cell phone, it may be better to think about an app. Regardless of the technical complexity of implementing them, users are more accustomed to using this type of functionality through an installed application.

4. What types of application programming languages exist?

When installed on devices with different operating systems, Apps have restrictions on the programming languages they can use. Broadly speaking, Apps have programming languages such as Native. This refers to the specific language of each operating system. This consists of web programming languages that will then export to native languages.

Native applications involve a greater complexity of maintenance and development, in the sense that we work to all intents and purposes with two different applications. This implies that integrating a new functionality is a separate development for each version.

On the other hand, those that use web programming languages are hybrid applications.  They offer certain facilities when it comes to having a web application and a mobile app in a single development.

In this case the approach is to have a single development that we can migrate to Android or iOS languages if necessary. Of course, in this sense, web applications offer greater flexibility, although they have their own difficulties.

5. What do we mean by Store Dependency?

The store offers great advantages to applications aimed at a very wide audience. On the one hand, we are all forced to use a store to manage our mobile apps. This means we will potentially see new products or look for apps to download at some point.

On the other hand, each store has its own search positioning system and can work with ASO.  However, apps with a small or very specific audience do not take advantage of the opportunity to appear in searches or suggestions.

We are talking about Apps exclusively for customers, point management systems. In this case, it would be advisable not to publish the application in a Store to avoid its restrictions. Since we will encounter problems such as each Store having its own rules when publishing an application and we will have to adapt during the development.

These rules cover the type of content of the app, what payment platforms they use and in some cases even the aesthetics. When a store app receives updates, the update gets public when it goes through a review. In the case of the Apple Store, reviews can be quite demanding, while Play Store reviews tend to be more lenient.

6. Which type of app should your company use?

It is based on the occasion. If your company wants to get a fits-all app or will look for something that fits the specifications a little better. Think about what features are most important to your company goals. Whether you choose to build a web app, native app, or hybrid app, it is important to keep your users top of mind to provide the most value and best experience possible.

Whether your app is simply an interactive resource for additional information or just needs Internet access to provide a satisfactory user experience, a web app might be the path to take. Progressive web apps are a good option for companies trying to create better mobile usability than what they currently offer through their mobile site.

If your app needs to access the device’s camera, you should consider creating a native mobile app. Although a hybrid mobile app allows some of these functions to be used, it will probably not be the best user experience. As an example, a native app that uses the camera and GPS functions of the smart device can be used.

Although hybrid mobile apps are not as common as web or native apps, the list of companies that use them might surprise you. In certain circumstances, web apps become hybrid mobile apps to have some similar advantages to native apps, including a listing in the app marketplace.

7. What is the cost difference between mobile apps and web apps?

The costs are higher for mobile apps, as they require two separate developments: one for iOS and one for Android. For the same reason, maintenance costs are also higher. If the mobile app is created only for one system, for example, iOS, it will only be available in the App Store and can only be installed on iOS devices.

For the same mobile app to be used on Android devices, the Android version will have to be developed so that it can be downloaded from the Play Store. Web applications, on the other hand, require only a code base. Creating the web project and hosting it on the servers, any device with Internet and web browser will be able to see the content of the web app.

However, despite this price difference, there are technologies, such as React Native and Angular that make it possible to create mobile apps that can be used on all devices, without having to create two versions of the app, one for iOS and another for Android.

8. Which one should you choose between the two?

In view of the latest trends in web and mobile app development, it deserves to know about progressive web apps. In fact, standard technology apps fail to offer each and every feature that a device may have. This becomes an important factor when progressive apps come into play, as they fall somewhere in between.

At Connect Tech we believe that progressive apps make the best use of both types by adding the most in-demand features to the application. The significant benefit of this type includes the fact that they also work well offline and also do not take a long time to load. Thanks to the app’s caching feature, which has enabled websites to retain large amounts of data offline.

Do you want to know more information about the differences between web apps and mobile apps? At Connect Tech we have the information you need. You can reach us by writing to us at CONTACT@CONNECTECH.DEV and we will get back to you shortly.

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