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On the face of it, mobile applications and web applications appear to be alike. There are, however, key differences to be aware of to ensure that you are choosing the correct one for your business.
That is not to say that one is simply better than the other, but each contains features that are designed to reach different goals, and both may not necessarily align with the goals you have for your business.
So, let us take a look at some of the differences for a better understanding.
The Key Differences
Mobile apps are created to be used specifically for one device – or a handful of different devices – such as Android or iOS. They then need to be downloaded from an app store and installed onto the device itself to be usable.
From there, they can access information stored on the device and utilize those features to optimize the experience the user has on the app – such as GPS functionalities, contacts, media, etc.
Web apps do not need to be installed on a device. You can access them by using the internet connection to view them on the browser of whatever device you are trying to access them from. They adapt themselves to the device in a responsive manner.
A mobile app’s user interface is designed to have a short loading time so that it is easily viewable on the device it was designed for.
A web app has more versatility when it comes to design. However, since it adjusts itself to fit onto different screen sizes, the designer needs to ensure that its aesthetic remains consistent across multiple platforms.
A mobile app is fully accessible according to the device it’s installed on. It needs frequent updates to keep up to date with some features. While easily accessible on the device it is catered for, this also limits the app in a sense. It cannot be found by any device that it is not made for – for example, an app that was created solely for iOS would not be available to Android.
In contrast, a web app loads from the internet whenever you access it and therefore needs no updates. It is also more accessible across platforms. With the recent addition of responsive design, web apps have become readily available to most devices. Since it also does not need to be installed onto the device, it updates itself without the user needing to initiate the update.
While they need connectivity to update, some mobile apps can be used without the need for the internet. This process also needs to be repeated throughout all the devices the app is installed on.
Web apps, on the other hand, are much more versatile in terms of updating content. When an edit is made on the website, it updates itself to display that update across all platforms without the need for a manual update by the user. They do, however, need a constant connection to the internet to be accessed.
A mobile app is not reached as easily because of the limitations set by the development. If it has not been developed for a specific device, that device will not be able to access it.
Alternatively, a web app has far greater reach since it can easily be shared among users employing social media. The URL can easily be shared by exchanging the link between users.
The biggest benefit of having a mobile application over a web application is its ability to utilize push notifications.
Push notifications are the app’s ability to send notifications about the goings-on within the app without the user needing to be using the app at the time. While it has made a break in web apps, the function is executed better on mobile apps.
Both mobile app and web apps have a series of benefits as well as liabilities. It is up to the company endeavoring to develop either to decide whether the pros outweigh the cons for their specific goals.
Some would argue the one’s advantages above the other, but the fact is that there is no one way of looking at them. Most companies make the addition of an app of some kind as part of a larger marketing plan, so the choice would also depend upon who the target audience is.
While you could research the topic all day, we recommend that you schedule a meeting with a specialist who would help you devise a plan to suit your needs for your business.