Web App vs App the Differences and the Problem with Blinders

Apps and web apps, despite their similar names, are actually quite different softwares. Web apps are applications which are web based, while what is commonly known as an app is more formally known as a native app, and they tend to run off mobile devices such as tablets and phones.

Web apps use a browser as its OS, require online connections to function, and are generally faster to build and therefore cheaper. Native applications are softwares that are downloaded onto a mobile device, auto-install, don’t necessarily require an internet connection to function, and on average take longer to build.

Since they are browser based, web apps can be built for both mobile and desktop uses. Native applications, on the other hand, are built for specific OS’s such as iOS, Android, or Windows Mobile. Web apps have an advantage in this area, as you don’t need to build a specific version for each OS.

Currently native apps looks better and tend to have more power behind them. Mainly due to the fact that native apps have access to the ever evolving hardware on mobile devices. However, all is not lost for the web app, mobile internet connections are constantly improving which will allow web apps to run faster and do more.

Native apps also have an advantage in terms of access. Getting an app is as simple as visiting the iTunes or Google Play stores. Web apps tend to be harder to access, often they operate behind the scenes as tools running off individual websites. Both of them could perform similar functions, e.g., managing your websites content through a mobile CMS, but the ease of access associated with apps tends to make them prefered.

The problem with iPad apps and really all iOS apps is that they are trendy. You could argue – and successfully so – that they are trendy for a reason, the big problem is that native apps tend to put blinders on those businesses interested in developing an app.

When thinking about developing an app, those who just jump onto the iOS bandwagon could find themselves spending a lot of money just to give something away for free. The business, now committed to developing a native app for iPad, iPhone, Android and Windows, might have been just as happy with a web app, running off a browser with access to all OS’s. However, for one reason or another never heard of such a solution because it was drowned out by the native app drum beating.

The Major Differences

Web Apps:

  • Quicker To Develop
  • Tend To Have Lower Budgets
  • Platfrom Independant
  • Uses a browser as its OS

Native (App) Applications

  • Look Better
  • More Powerfull
  • No internet needed (beyond install)
  • Easy Access