The Difference Between a Mobile App and a Web App
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.
Not only are they for the user, but also in how they are also developed and deployed, so it’s important not to get the two confused — there’s quite a lot of 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, on the other hand, 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.
- 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
- 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
- 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