What Is the Difference Between a Mobile App and a Web App?
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The year 2020 draws closer and closer whereas the “mobile or web app” dilemma remains as relevant as it is. Both options are highly popular among users – each has its benefits and drawbacks. But, all in all, what is the difference between developing mobile apps and web apps? Let’s dive into some details to figure out this question and clarify any related nuances.
Key Differences Between Mobile & Web Apps
It all starts with the essential building process of these types of software. Thus, mobile solutions are created to be compatible with a certain operating system (e.g., iOS, Android, etc.). I.e., their program code is written in the language supported by a particular platform (e.g., Swift/Objective-C for iOS and Java/Kotlin for Android).
Alternatively, a web application performs via a web browser (like Chrome, Safari, Opera, Firefox, etc.), while its basic programming can be carried out with the help of any sufficient web development language, like JS, PHP, Java, Ruby, and others.
In terms of UI, in the case of mobile software, the design process implies making an app thoroughly interactive, adjusting it in accordance with the design features of a certain platform (material design, flat design, etc.) or even based on the hardware specifics.
As for web solutions, the main focus in building the UI is the pick between adaptive, responsive, and mobile-first design as well as providing a maximum achievable speed of response to user actions.
In the aspect of ultimate accessibility, mobile apps are quite superior to other types of solutions. Web apps simply cannot perform without an Internet connection. Mobile software, however, may as well work offline at any moment.
In order to test a smartphone app, special emulators are usually used which imitate the common dimensions and OS traits of most mobile devices. That’s why testing processes here may take longer and still not guarantee perfect compatibility with each and every mobile device existing on this planet.
In turn, web software testing is based on achieving compatibility with popular web browsers, of which there aren’t too many. Web app developers’ tasks in this aspect may include a single ultimate decision as for adaptive, responsive or mobile-first design.
Pros & Cons of Mobile & Web Apps
One of the major advantages of web apps, as opposed to mobile solutions, is the fact that they don’t require users to install any software on their hardware and occupy cache with an insignificant amount of bytes. This means that users don’t need to clean their smartphone cache for the software to perform properly. Web apps are also automatically updated.
On the other hand, web functionality cannot be as flexible and powerful without hardware capabilities and it is harder to promote web solutions. Systematic employment of the SEO specialist services may be a must when you need to popularize your web solution, which costs a pretty penny.
Which is Better – a Web App or a Mobile App?
It is cannot be stated that one is ultimately better than the other. On one hand, web solutions are cheaper to implement and maintain, can be launched straight from the browser, and don’t depend on any OS requirements.
On the other hand, they cannot perform offline. And that’s where mobile software is much more accessible and readily available. Moreover, advanced mobile development capabilities allow creating crossplatform software (e.g., via React Native) and hybrid apps (via Xamarin or similar frameworks). Both are efficient solutions unless you need to provide software interaction with hardware capabilities, such as accelerometer, GPS, and other built-in features (in this case, a mobile native app is the only option).
Can any sort of compromise be reached in this question? It may as well be. A Progressive Web App or PWA is an advanced technological concept introduced by Google.
Progressive Web Apps: the Best of Both Worlds?
PWA is a web application that features proprietary software tools as well – such as Service Worker, Push Notifications, App Shell, HTTPS, Web app manifest, and others. The concept is based on several underlying notions:
- reliable – an app can load and perform without the necessary Internet connection;
- fast – network data transfers are utterly rapid, the UI is utterly interactive, and user request responses are immediate;
- engaging – the UX should motivate users to employ the solution repeatedly.
By the way, you can efficiently build a PWA from your existing mobile website. In visual aspects, PWAs are practically identical to native software.
Everything is more complicated in terms of technical implementation, however. Like native software employs mobile platforms as virtual machines, so do PWAs employ browsers this way. As such, they additionally consume local resources, only via HTTPS protocol that guarantees the privacy of transferred data packages.
The ultimate stand of mobile apps vs. web apps may as well lose its relevance due to the existence of Progressive Web Apps. However, neither web-based applications nor mobile software should be neglected by business, as both options can efficiently meet the average requirements of modern users.
If you need to clarify any further details, settle with the most fitting format of software development, and efficiently implement it – contact us right now. We handle projects of any scale, shape, and color, and certainly know what’s best for your particular business.