Web App vs Mobile App – 8 Key Differences to Know

    Key Takeaways

  • The key difference between a web app and a mobile app is that a web app runs through a web browser and requires an internet connection, while a mobile app is installed directly on a mobile device.
  • Develop PWA as an alternate solution to leverage the strength of both mobile apps and web apps. It is because, PWA provides a seamless user experience across various devices and platforms, offer offline functionality, and integrate well with devices.

Are you finding it difficult to choose between mobile applications or web applications? – If the answer is yes, you’ve come to the correct place.

In this blog, we aim to provide you with a comprehensive comparison of a web app vs mobile app, helping you make an informed choice. This blog provides you with valuable insights and practical advice on developing a successful web application.

Let’s start our journey by understanding the definitions.

What is a Web App?

Web app is a software application that runs on the web browser and is accessed over the internet is known as a web app. Web apps are used on all devices that include desktops, mobile phones, tablets, and laptops.

Web apps are accessed by the user through a web browser with an active internet connection. This means that they don’t need to be downloaded and installed on the user’s device, like traditional software applications. Instead, they are provided as a service over the internet.
A few examples of web apps include webmail websites like Yahoo, Gmail, eCommerce website like Amazon, and social media websites like Twitter.

If you are looking to build a web app, here is a comprehensive guide that describes the process to build a web app. From this guide you will know the 10-step process and cost to build a web app.

What is a Mobile App?

Mobile apps is a software that is specifically designed and developed to run on mobile devices. Such as smartphones, tablets, or wearables. Moreover, mobile applications are used for a variety of purposes including communication, entertainment, productivity, information, and shopping.

A few examples of popular native mobile apps include the social media app Whatsapp, Twitter, and Instagram, entertainment mobile applications like Netflix, TikTok, and Spotify, and shopping apps like Amazon, eBay, and Walmart.

Now, let us understand the differences between web apps and mobile apps by comparing the key parameters.

8 Key Differences Between Web App and Mobile App

The below-mentioned table will help you to find the key difference between web and mobile apps with a few examples and their features.

Web Apps vs Mobile Apps
Sr. NoParametersWeb AppsMobile Apps
1PlatformWeb apps are accessible on multiple platforms, making them cross-platform applications.Mobile apps are created specifically for particular mobile platforms, such as iOS or Android, and are tailored to the functions and aesthetics of those platforms. iOS apps, for example, are designed and developed specifically for Apple devices.
2TechnologiesThe commonly used technologies to develop or web apps built on HTML, CSS, JavaScript, PHP, Ruby on Rails (ROR), and Node.jsMobile apps are developed using platform-specific programming languages such as Java or Swift, along with specific standard software development kits (SDKs).
3InstallationWeb apps don’t need to be downloaded or installed. They are easily accessible to users using the web browsers.Mobile apps are available as icons on the user’s mobile devices and must be downloaded and installed through Google Play Store and App Store.
4AccessWeb apps are accessed through a web browser by entering a URL or clicking on a link.Mobile apps functions are accessed by tapping on their respective app icons on the user’s device, providing a dedicated and streamlined user experience.
5Offline AccessSince they are entirely dependent on internet browsers, web apps often only offer a very limited offline capability.Complete offline access can be provided via mobile apps, enabling users to access specific features and material even when they are not connected to the internet.
6DistributionWeb apps can be accessed directly through a URL or link and do not need to be distributed through stores.Mobile apps are distributed through the Play Store or App Store, which offer centralized platforms for users to discover, download, and update apps.
7UpdatesWeb apps can be updated instantly by developers, without requiring any action from the user.Updates for mobile apps are pushed by app developers through app stores, where users need to download and update them on their devices.
8Development CostWeb apps are generally more cost-effective to develop compared to a native mobile app due to factors such as development approach and single codebase.Mobile app development might cost higher than web apps depending upon the factor and requirements of an application.

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Nevertheless, before embarking on any specific platform it is crucial to go through their pros and cons to make the right decision. By doing this, you can make sure that you select the platform that best suits your requirements and make your app development aim satisfied.

What are the Advantages and Limitations of Web Applications?

In this section, we will discuss the advantages and limitations that will help you to identify the right differences between web applications and mobile applications.

The key advantage and limitations of web applications are as follows:

Pros of Web AppCons of Web App
  • Regardless of the operating platform, the web app can be accessed from any device with browser connectivity and an internet connection.
  • Due to centralized deployment and maintenance the efforts and cost of managing multiple installations can be reduced.
  • Web apps are available to a wider audience because they can be accessed from a variety of devices.
  • A consistent user experience is offered by web apps on all platforms and gadgets.
  • All users who access the web app can see updates and changes immediately after they are made.
  • Web apps can benefit from centralized security measures, updates, no app store approval, and data backup.
  • Web apps can be easily scaled to accommodate a growing user base by upgrading remote server infrastructure and increasing resources as needed.
  • To function properly on any device web apps require internet access. Without an internet connection, accessing web apps may limit their capabilities or make them unable to work.
  • Web browser versions and variances may cause web app compatibility problems. And regular updates may require cache clearance to be displayed to users.
  • Web apps may have limited access to certain device features (e.g., sensors, camera) and may not provide the same level of performance as native apps.

While understanding web apps, you may have doubts about whether to opt for a website or web app, To clear your confusion, explore the blog – web app vs website to know the comparisons in detail. From this blog, you will get an in-depth idea of choosing a website or web app. Since we have understood the pros and cons of web applications, let’s quickly go through the scenarios when building web apps is a suitable choice.

When to Build a Web Application?

Building a web application can be a strategic decision for your business in several scenarios. Consider the following situations:

  • To reach a wide audience across different devices, platforms, and operating systems.
  • When cost-effectiveness is a priority compared to developing native mobile applications.
  • When quick deployment and accessibility are important, without the need for users to download and install anything.
  • When flexibility in updates and maintenance is desired, with the ability to make server-side updates.
  • When the focus is on delivering content, information, or services to users efficiently.

If you are planning to build a web app and searching for ideas then go through our post on best web application ideas. These ideas will help you learn about the possible ways one can generate profits as well as solve societal issues through web applications.

Want to Develop a Web App?

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Now let’s go through the advantages and limitations of a mobile application.

What are the Advantages and Limitations of Mobile Apps?

This section includes the advantages and limitations of a mobile app that will make decision-making easy to associate with mobile applications.

Pros of Mobile AppCons of Mobile App
  • With features like touch gestures, push notifications, and offline functionality, the mobile app offers a rich and engaging user experience that is tailored for mobile devices.
  • Mobile apps can access device features such as cameras, GPS, accelerometers, and contacts, enhancing functionality and user engagement.
  • Mobile apps are typically faster and more responsive compared to web applications, as they can utilize device resources and are not dependent on network speed or connectivity.
  • Mobile apps include a variety of monetization possibilities, including in-app purchases, subscriptions, adverts, and app marketplaces, enabling companies to make money directly from users.
  • Offline capability in mobile apps enables users to access specific features and content even without a connection.
  • Users of mobile apps can receive notifications, which facilitate real-time communication as well as updates and reminders.
  • Mobile apps require app store approval for different development and maintenance. As they are designed specifically for a particular mobile operating system it may not be fully accessible through a mobile browser.
  • Users must download and install the mobile application from an app store, which may demand storage space and may run into compatibility problems with older devices or operating system versions.

Since we have understood the pros and cons of mobile applications, let’s quickly go through the scenarios on when you can build mobile applications.

When to Build a Mobile Application?

Developing a mobile app is a suitable choice in various scenarios:

  • To provide a more immersive user experience by utilizing the native capabilities of mobile devices, such as popular mobile apps that send push notifications, access the camera, utilize GPS, and enable intuitive gestures.
  • To increase user engagement through personalized interactions, intuitive design, and notifications, resulting in higher satisfaction and loyalty.
  • To offer offline functionality, enabling users to access certain features and content even without a connection, ensuring uninterrupted usage.
  • To generate quick revenue through monetization options like in-app purchases, subscriptions, and targeted advertisements, leveraging app stores’ payment systems.

If you want the advantage of both the platforms web apps and mobile apps, you can even build a combination that is PWAs.

Progressive Web Apps – An Alternate Solution

Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) offer a hybrid app solution that combines the best features of both mobile apps and web apps. PWAs are installable on a user’s mobile device, can be launched from the home screen, and can even work offline. Such an agile feature of PWA bridges the gap between web apps and native mobile apps making them a popular choice for hybrid mobile apps.

A few examples of PWAs are Forbes, Alibaba, Starbucks, and Telegram. As PWA offers Android apps and Windows Phone apps, experienced users find it easy to use and navigate PWAs. They can be easily updated and maintained, reach a wider audience through search engines and URLs, and offer features such as offline access and notifications. PWAs provide a responsive design, work across platforms, and offer improved performance compared to traditional web apps.

However, it’s important to note that developing PWAs, as hybrid mobile apps, is comparatively more expensive than traditional web apps. Additionally, PWAs cannot access all of the same device features as native apps for example PWAs cannot access the camera, Bluetooth, and GPS.

Progressive web applications are a good choice if you want your audience to experience native and web apps augment within one app. Get in touch with our progressive web applications development team and know more about it.

Still have doubts about a mobile application or web application, let’s understand faqs in the next section.

Frequently Asked Questions About Mobile App vs Web App

How much time does it take to develop a web app from scratch?

The development time for a web app from scratch can vary depending on factors such as app complexity, desired features, design requirements, development resources, and experience of the development team. Generally, simpler web apps take 2 – 4 months, while more complex ones may take 4 – 12 months or more.

Are progressive web apps better than web apps and mobile apps?

Progressive web apps offer a set of advantages as compared to traditional web apps and mobile apps, but whether they are “better” depends upon specific requirements and context. PWAs are costlier to develop than web apps however, if you are looking to provide an immersive user experience to your customer then PWA is a better choice.

What are the distinctions between native and hybrid apps?

Native applications are created especially for a given platform, like iOS or Android. While hybrid apps, on the other hand, are built using web technologies, such as HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.

Are web apps available in the Google Play Store?

Web apps are not available on Apple App Store or Google Play Store as it is accessible through web browser, hence app users do not need to download any web app from the app store. By just providing the hyperlink on any browser users can access web apps.

Can a web application be converted into a mobile app?

Of course, web apps can easily be converted into native mobile apps. This can be achieved through a process called hybrid app development where web technologies (HTML, CSS, JavaScript) are wrapped in a native container to create a mobile app. However, it’s important to note that the resulting app may not perform as efficiently as a natively developed mobile app.

Let us Help You Choose the Right App Development Platform for Your Specific Needs

Choosing the right platform for app development is the pathway to online business success. Hence choosing the right platform for app development becomes important. In this blog, we have provided comprehensive differences between web and mobile applications that include definitions, pros and cons, examples of web applications and mobile applications, and comparing the key difference between mobile and web applications.

However, if you still find it difficult or have questions about choosing the best from the mobile and web apps then you can get in touch with our experts in mobile app and web app development. Our team of experts will help you to solve your mobile and web app dilemma with seamless and professional-grade solutions.

Bhaval Patel

Written by

Bhaval Patel is a Director (Operations) at Space-O Technologies. He has 20+ years of experience helping startups and enterprises with custom software solutions to drive maximum results. Under his leadership, Space-O has won the 8th GESIA annual award for being the best mobile app development company. So far, he has validated more than 300 app ideas and successfully delivered 100 custom solutions using the technologies, such as Swift, Kotlin, React Native, Flutter, PHP, RoR, IoT, AI, NFC, AR/VR, Blockchain, NFT, and more.