The number of web and mobile applications has grown exponentially in recent years and everyone wants an app. However people are always not clear if they should have a web app that works through a browser or a mobile app.
There is no absolute answer as to which type of app you should go for. It depends completely on your requirements, resources, monetary considerations, etc. Functionality wise, both web app and mobile app may look very similar but they have small but very significant differences.
What are Web apps & Native apps?
An application program that has been developed for use on a particular mobile OS or device is called native mobile application (original app). Camera+ app for Apple’s iOS devices is one of the examples of native app. While an application program that is stored on a remote server and dispatched over the Internet through a browser interface is called Web application (Web app). An example of a mobile web app is Safari Browser.
Users of native apps generally download them via app stores online such as the Apple App Store or Google Play store. Web Apps, on the other hand, are Internet-based apps that are accessible via Web browser of mobile device. They need not be downloaded onto the user’s mobile device in order to be accessed. According to mobile analytics, 86% of our time is spent on apps, and just 14% is spent on the Web.
Native App: If one of your priorities is rendering a user experience that is uniform with the operating system and with the most of other apps available on that mobile OS, then native app is the best way to go for it.
Web App: With a web app, the graphics and the visuals will not precisely be the same as those which users may be already habituated with. But that doesn’t mean that you cannot provide a good user experience in a web app. It just means that it will be harder to take advantage of the mobile strengths and lessen the mobile limitations.
Native App: Totally compatible with the hardware and native features of device, such as camera, accelerometer and so on. It works as a standalone entity; user has to keep downloading updates which is one of the problems.
Web App: While web apps can retrieve only a limited amount of a device’s native features. It updates itself without the need for user interruption. However, it necessarily needs to be accessed via a mobile device’s browser.
Native App: Though native apps are more expensive to develop, they are faster and more efficient. Also, they are guaranteed of quality, as users can use them only via online app stores.
Web App: Higher costs of maintenance across multiple mobile platforms. Besides, there is no specific regulatory authority to monitor quality standards of these apps. Hence, they are less efficient than that of native apps.
Features specific to operating systems
Native App: Native apps can access native operating system features that are beyond the bounds of web apps. For instance, push notifications, alerting users when a new piece of content is published or running your app in the background.
Web App: On the other side, web apps are getting more alternatives for features like notifications, and hybrid apps can frequently access native features fully while basically existing as a web app in a wrapper.
Native App: A native app in a store places you inside an ecosystem. As you have to deal with gatekeepers who brush up your app and set boundaries on what you can do, you’re not in control of the entire user experience. You have to play by the rules of each platform and adjust to their expectations in order to serve your customers.
Web App: With a web app you bypass the ecosystem and deal directly with your users. In other words, the web becomes the platform.
Whether you should go for a web app or a mobile app depends totally on your requirements. There is no one-size-fits-all, perfect answer. Finding the right app for you may be one of the difficult tasks. Examine what your main goals are and what your audience needs. Explore your options and get a great developer. Ask for suggestions. If you see a great app that you think would suit your expectations, find out more.