The Difference Between a Mobile App and a Web App

Mobile apps vs. Web apps

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

  • 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.
  • Web apps will update themselves.

The difference between a mobile app and a web app: Pros and Cons

Now we know the fundamental differences between mobile and web apps, we can recap the pros and cons of each:

1. Mobile apps

Pros:

  • Easier to build due to the availability of developer tools, interface elements, and SDKs
  • Safe and secure — native apps must first be approved by the app store
  • Greater functionality as they have access to system resources
  • Faster than web apps
  • Can work offline
  • More expensive to build than web apps
  • Expensive to maintain and update
  • It may prove difficult to get a native app approved by the app store
  • Compatibility with different platforms usually means designing and building the app from scratch

2. Web apps

Pros:

  • Do not require app store approval, so can be launched quickly
  • Quicker and easier to build than mobile apps
  • Will update themselves
  • Do not need to be downloaded or installed — web apps function in-browser
  • Easy to maintain — they have a common codebase regardless of mobile platform
  • Slower than mobile apps, and less advanced in terms of features
  • Do not work offline
  • Quality and security is not always guaranteed — web apps don’t need to be approved by the app store
  • May not be as discoverable as mobile apps as they are not listed in a specific database, such as the app store

--

--

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store