One of the biggest transformations the Internet world has seen in recent years is increasingly extensive usage of mobile devices to access the web. Google has stated that more than 50% of online searches are now coming from mobile devices, and other studies suggest that this number is even higher. In fact, mobile searches have outpaced desktop searches in terms of overall search volume. What this means for businesses is that having a mobile presence is not a luxury any longer, but it is a crucial part of a business's online strategy. There are different ways to achieve the goal of making your applications available on portable devices, such as smartphones and tablets. A business may have either a web app or a mobile app, or both. So, let’s take a look at the differences between web apps and mobile apps and let’s try to figure out which one is a better approach for your business.
What is a web app?
If you have a database solution already created for your business, you may be wondering what does it mean to have a web app. After all, if my database is already online, why can’t people just access it using phones or tablets with internet access? Mobile optimization is the process of tailoring an application to make it look and function correctly on mobile devices. Therefore, a web app is specifically designed to be displayed and used on mobile screens. It is ready to use directly from a mobile web browser and doesn’t need to be downloaded. This means that within a web app, all database elements like tabs, buttons etc. can be clearly seen and opened on a portable touch-screen device, rather than using a traditional keyboard and mouse interface.
When should I use a web app?
Web apps are easier to create than mobile apps. In general, online database platforms already have built-in features for adapting the site to fit mobile devices. As an additional advantage, you won’t have to create separate web apps for Android and iPhone. Online database software requires no special skills to use, so any business can quickly benefit from offering a web app.
What is a mobile app?
If you use any smartphone, then you are familiar with mobile apps. Mobile apps, sometimes referred to as ‘native’ apps, are applications (software) you download to your phone. Mobile apps allow you to do a variety of things, like listening to a music, shopping online, accessing stock quotes and more. Unlike web apps, mobile apps can also be used offline, even during periods when no Internet connection is available. While offline, a mobile app saves the data locally into the device memory and updates an online database whenever Internet connection is restored.
Mobile apps can utilize all the features available on smartphones or tablets. This means they can do things like accessing a phone’s camera, sending user alerts or using a phone’s instant messaging technology.
When should I use a mobile app?
If you are considering using a mobile app, there are few important things to know. First, you should be aware that a mobile app is more complex and therefore is more difficult to develop rather than a web app. A mobile app will require programming skills and therefore it is more expensive to develop. Secondly, you should be aware that you’ll have to create separate mobile app versions for Android and for Apple iOS. This means you would need a knowledge of the programing languages or would need to hire someone who has the expertise for each particular operating system. On a bright side, the mobile apps allow creating a unique interface, customized to fit portable devices. Also, mobile apps are recommended in case when you have very specific requirements for the application, for example, if you need to integrate it with some other systems.
An overview of pros and cons
+ Easy to build|
+ Nothing to download
+ Platform-independent (works on Android, Apple iOS, Etc.)
+ Less updating and maintenance
+ Inexpensive to develop
+ Able to utilize smartphone features such as a camera or a GPS sensor|
+ Available offline
+ Meet specific requirements (for example, a unique user interface or a need for an integration with other systems)
- Not available offline|
- Less options to use phone features such as a camera or a GPS sensor
- More difficult to build; requires programming knowledge|
- Requires creating different versions of the app for Android and iOS
- Expensive to develop
- Requires more maintenance and updating
As mobile devices dominate the internet, businesses need a good mobile presence to succeed online. Your choice between a web app and a mobile app depends on your business goals, your budget, and your web development abilities. Overall, a web app is easier and faster to create, while a mobile app would require programming skills. While mobile apps do provide some powerful features, a web app would still help your site to succeed online. Leading online database platforms like QuickBase, TeamDesk or Caspio provide readymade web and mobile interfaces for you to choose from.