Web app vs Mobile app

Web app vs Mobile app

In some people, there is a common misconception that mobile apps and web apps are the same things - but actually, the two are very different in many ways. Not only are there differences for the user; they are also developed and deployed differently, so it’s important not to get the two confused. Mobile apps and web apps are designed and built very differently.

Web app

A web app is a website that is designed fluidly, responding to being viewed on a smartphone. There are many different types of websites out there, some are static and rarely updated, while others are responsive and have a great deal of interactivity.  Web apps, specifically, function like downloadable apps, but all from the comfort of your phone’s browser.

Mobile app

Mobile apps are built for a specific platform, such as iOS for the Apple iPhone or Android for other devices. They are downloaded and installed via an app store and have access to system resources, such as GPS and the camera function. Mobile apps live and run on the device itself. Snapchat, Instagram, Google Maps and Facebook Messenger are some examples of popular mobile apps.

What is the difference between a mobile app and a web app? Let’s take a look.

  • Web apps are accessed via the internet browser and will adapt to whichever device you’re viewing them on. They are not native to a particular system and don’t need to be downloaded or installed. Due to their responsive nature, they do indeed look and function a lot like mobile apps.

  • Web apps need an active internet connection in order to run, whereas mobile apps may work offline.

  • Mobile apps have the advantage of being faster and more efficient, but they do require the user to regularly download updates. On the other hand, web apps will update themselves.

  • Mobile apps are more expensive to develop than web apps, and because they are platform-specific, launching an app across different platforms pretty much means starting from scratch in terms of design and development. And mobile apps tend to be more advanced in terms of features and functionality.

  • Mobile apps are built using specific languages and Integrated Development Environments (IDE) depending on the intended platform.

  • Development tools, interface elements, and software development kits (SDK) which developers can use to build native mobile apps. Unlike mobile apps, there is no standard software development kit for building web apps. However, developers do have access to templates.

  • Compared to mobile apps, web apps are usually quicker and easier to build - but they are much simpler in terms of features.

  • Standard web apps lack some of the functionality that mobile apps can offer.

  • Mobile apps may prove difficult to get a native app approved by the app store. In contrast, web apps do not require app store approval, so can be launched quickly.

  • Mobile apps can work offline, whereas web apps do not work offline.

  • A mobile app is totally compatible with the device’s hardware and native features, such as an accelerometer, camera and so on. Web apps, on the other hand, can access only a limited amount of a device’s native features.

  • While a native app works as a standalone entity, the problem is that the user has to keep downloading updates. A Web app, on the other hand, updates itself without the need for user intervention. However, it necessarily needs to be accessed via a device’s web browser.

  • Every mobile platform uses a different native programming language. While iOS uses Objective-C, Android uses Java, Windows Mobile uses C++ and so on. Web apps, on the other hand, use languages such as JavaScript, HTML5, CSS3 or other Web application frameworks as per the developer’s preferences.

  • App monetization with mobile apps can be tricky, since certain mobile device manufacturers may lay restrictions on integrating services with certain mobile ad platforms and networks. Conversely, Web apps enable you to monetize apps by way of advertisements, charging membership fees and so on.

  • With respect to the UI designing web applications are hard to design since each and every browser, ever device defers a lot and lot of screen size are needed to be taken into factor, also it lacks any framework guidelines. UI of mobile application has definite guidelines and are kind of restrictive to some extent.

  • Web apps are more vulnerable to the hacks compared to the Mobile Application. One can easily inspect the code of the web application which is hard with mobile applications. Also, there are many vulnerabilities of Web app such as cross-site scripting, SQL injection and many other which mobile apps are pretty much immune.

  • Mobile Application once made for a particular Environment cannot be replicated to other environments. And Web apps are independent of this environments and can adapt to all the devices.

  • The web app has the fortune of being used on various devices with the only requirement being a web browser and an internet connection.

  • It’s a little more “cool” to have a mobile app. People like that their users will have an icon on their homepage for the app and they like the fact people will download it. You don’t get that with web apps, the best you can do is suggest they bookmark the app on their homepage. Then you will get a neat icon directly on their phone.

  • Web apps are easy to share out to social networks or send to a friend via email. You can also integrate the web systems with Facebook, Google, Twitter, and other platforms. On the other side, mobile apps don’t have as many easy ways to share information. However, some games and applications will have you connect with Facebook and allow the system to post on your timeline.


So, you can consider all the above aspects before going to develop a native app or a Web app for your business. If in case you have no budget limits, you may also opt for both types of apps development for your business.

You can share your experiences with us in the comment section. Thank you!


Photograph by Bibit Unggul

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