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Mobile vs Web App

As a business owner, you have probably considered the many ways you can reach customers. Whether that is from old fashion methods like advertising in the newspaper or phone book or modern solutions like having an online website and a Facebook Ads campaign.

What is a Mobile App?

A mobile app is an application for a certain mobile device (tablet or smartphone). They are installed directly onto the device and are usually acquired from an online store like The App Store on Apple products or Google Play on Android.

What is a Web App?

A web app is an internet-enabled application that has specific functionality for mobile devices. They do not need to be installed onto the device and can be accessed through any mobile device’s web browser.

What is a Web App?

A web app is an internet-enabled application that has specific functionality for mobile devices. They do not need to be installed onto the device and can be accessed through any mobile device’s web browser.

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Comparison of Mobile Apps and Web Apps:

User Interface

Some companies decide to do both a mobile app and a web app like Facebook. See the comparison below:

Notice how the basic look of each is very similar along with their overall functionality? This is done to offer a consistent user experience.

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Development

Mobile Apps

When you develop a mobile application, you must create two platforms (iOS and Android) because each platform has its own native language Java (Android) and Objective C (iOS).

Web Apps

Web Based Apps run in a web browser so they can be written in HTML5, CSS3, JavaScript or any other languages of the developer’s choice.

Capabilities

Mobile Apps

A mobile app can interact with the device’s native features, information, and hardware. For example, the app will be able to access the phone’s geo-location and camera.

Web Apps

Web based apps can access a very limited amount of the device’s features.

Monetization

Mobile Apps

If you choose to make a mobile application, and you would like to charge fees for your app, you can set a download price in the app stores. Additional fees could be collected for additional in-app purchases or add-ons.

Web Apps

If you choose to do a website, the only way to monetize would be to host site advertisement or charge subscription fees—this would have to be handled through your own system rather than through the App Store.

App Version

Mobile Apps

Users can choose to ignore an update through the App Store/Google Play which allows different users to be running on different versions of the app.

Web Apps

All users are on the same version because updates are pushed to the website itself and not particular phones/devices.

Strengths and Weaknesses

There are pros and cons along with certain strengths and weaknesses that come along with either a mobile application or a web-based app.

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Strengths

Mobile Apps

  • Mobile apps will typically run faster than web apps.
  • Since apps must be approved before they can appear in the App Store/Google Play, it can help reassure users that your app is safe.
  • App Store/Google Play can be used as a form of advertisement for your product

Web Apps

  • There is only one common code to maintain.
  • Users don’t have to download an app onto their phone. This can be beneficial if storage on a device is an issue.
  • App store does not have to approve individual updates or even the original application.

Weaknesses

Mobile Apps

  • Are more expensive to develop especially when you’re wanting to work on multiple platforms.
  • Supporting multiple platforms requires multiple code bases in all areas of app development, maintenance, future updates, etc.
  • Because users aren’t required to update their app, it can be more difficult to provide technical support for since not everybody is on the same version.
  • App store approval can delay the launch or prevent the release of an app.

Web Apps

  • Web-based apps cannot access all a device’s features yet.
  • Browser complications can increase cost of maintenance and development.
  • Because there are multiple browsers available, it could cause issues when trying to provide support for your product.
  • It may be harder to find a web-based app because they are not listed in an App store.

When it comes time to decide between a mobile app and a web-based app, you may find yourself wondering how to choose. Consider this list of questions to help you make your decision:

  1. Does my product/service require any special device features like a camera, camera flash, location services, or Bluetooth?
  2. Does the app need internet access to work effectively?
  3. What is your budget?
  4. Do you want to target all mobile devices or just certain ones?
  5. How important is speed and performance?
  6. Do you want to monetize the app?
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