A Web App and a Native Mobile App Similarities
Everything you need to know about the different apps before making your next digital experience.
Last Updated: Nov 11, 2021
Difference Between Website and Web Application
Any difference between website and web application functions is highlighted by considering similarities. Both use server hosting to allow users to interact via the web. Both are designed to be universally accessible. Users do not need a specific operating system to access either (generally speaking).
The primary difference is seen in apps vs websites usage. Websites are all about displaying and providing content. Applications are designed for user interactions. Possibly the best example of a website is Wikipedia. It provides content to users, but there aren’t many user interactions. The best examples of web apps would be Google Docs. This ‘site’ is defined by user interactions.
Web app examples are extensive, and they tend to be as common or more common than websites. Of course, the distinctions grow more clear when you compare web app vs mobile app, which you’ll find below.
Mobile Web App
Let’s look at a good mobile web app definition. In simplest terms, a mobile web application is an app that is accessible on a mobile device and only requires a web browser to use. In other words, it doesn’t require use of a native app store. You don’t have to download anything special. You can simply use your preferred browser and use the mobile web app.
Digging a little further, you can consider the difference between web application and mobile application software. A web application can be used on any device and is not necessarily optimized for mobile use. A mobile application is optimized for mobile use, and it doesn’t have to be exclusively web hosted. A mobile application can be a web app, or it can be a native app.
This makes even more sense when you look at the difference between mobile application and desktop application principles. The apps can be extremely similar. The only real defining attribute is optimization. Google Maps, for instance, exists in mobile and desktop applications (and web applications). Whether you are using the mobile or desktop version, the experience should be comparable.
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Mobile Web App Examples
Looking at mobile web app examples can seem confusing at first. Major software developers tend to make applications in multiple formats. Facebook, as an example, can be found as a mobile web app, a native app, and a hybrid app. That’s a lot of iterations, and it’s primarily because Facebook wants to be universally accessible.
That brings us to a major mobile web app vs native app distinction. The native apps are designed to run completely on the mobile device. That means they have to be crafted in the operating systems native language (Swift for iOS and Java for Android). They’ll also be downloaded through an app store instead of a website.
Progressive Web App (PWA)
The Progressive Web App (PWA) concept was lightly introduced above. Let’s look at it more closely. Primarily, PWAs combine the strengths of mobile apps and web apps. They’re designed to have the same user experience as a mobile app, but they are developed and deployed as a Progressive Web App. That means any device with a web browser can use a PWA, but it will feel like you downloaded a native app when you use it.
A good Progressive Web App Example is Uber. You may be familiar with the native mobile app version, but the entire online infrastructure of Uber has been redesigned to function as a PWA. Any device with a browser can log into an Uber account, order a ride, pay for it and enjoy the entire experience as though they were on a native mobile app.
Because of the versatile strengths and relatively non-existent weaknesses of PWAs, Google has fully embraced them. Alex Russel has a lot to say on the subject during his episode of the Mobile Matters podcast.
If you want to look into a Progressive Web App Tutorial, consider checking out Lumavate. It’s a leader in helping companies create PWAs without having to learn to code.
One of the great strengths of PWAs is their incorporation of an app cloud. The cloud app runs the application, stores data, and basically serves as the powerhouse of the app. It can be accessed via the web, and it doesn’t require special, native coding for user-end applications.
What is the difference between cloud app vs mobile app designs? Cloud apps can be mobile apps, and mobile apps can be cloud apps. The difference lies in the emphasis. A cloud app is run by a cloud server in a virtual space. A mobile app is designed to function on a mobile device. Plenty of mobile apps ultimately work via virtual cloud spaces (making a cloud mobile app), but they don’t have to.
Having a cloud database for mobile apps adds to stability and reliability. To get an idea, some prominent mobile cloud applications examples include Hubspot, Office 365 and Google Drive.
What Is a Native App?
Let’s take a moment to expand our understanding of what a native app is. To be native, an app has to be built from the ground up in an operating system’s core language. That would be Java for Android and Swift for iOS. That means that having a native app on multiple platforms requires developers to completely rebuild the app for each native language. It adds considerably to the workload.
That said, native apps provide a great user experience thanks to it’s functionality. It’s why native mobile apps are what users typically think of when they talk about mobile apps. Take social media for just a few native app examples. Instagram, Snapchat, and Facebook all make use of onboard hardware (such as accessing phone cameras), and most users interact with the sites via native apps.
A full list of native apps would be miles long, but pretty much anything you can find in an app store is a native mobile app. If you want to know how to identify if an app is native or hybrid, you have to look at the root code. The main difference between a hybrid and native app is that a hybrid app’s shell is a web browser, which doesn’t make for a great user experience.
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If you want to take advantage of the best-of-both-worlds philosophy of hybrid apps, you can use a platform like React Native. It was developed by Facebook to allow developers to make quality mobile apps without having to juggle coding languages. Anything developed with React Native will be a hybrid app and accessible on all major platforms.
You can go further by utilizing Lumavate. Lumavate takes the open-source platform and utilizes it to empower app designers to circumvent coding altogether. Designers can pull from existing libraries for the functions they need, allowing for fast, easy development of universally accessible apps.
A Web App and Native Mobile App Similarities
There are abundant similarities between a web app and a native mobile app. Primarily, their functions are completely similar. They try to provide an interactive user experience. That can range from doing taxes to navigating a new city. The point is that they’re doing more than just printing information to a screen. They’re performing a task.
As such, designing either application is a similar process. The fundamental coding language might be different, but the logic governing a good app is universal.
For all of those similarities, web application vs desktop application pros and cons is an important consideration. A web application offloads most of the processing to the web server. This makes it easier for use across diverse devices. It also provides a consistent experience. That said, desktop apps can make better use of local hardware (such as a webcam), and that can provide a smoother, higher-performing experience for users with good hardware.
Native App vs. Web App
Comparing a native app vs web app is an important part of choosing how to develop your next app. They have clear strengths and weaknesses. The first comes from looking at web app vs native app performance. On average, apps perform better in a native environment. They’re designed explicitly to use the device’s hardware, and that comes with a level of optimization that is impossible for a web app. That said, web apps remove the hard work from the mobile device — making them perform better on older devices that don’t have the latest hardware. Web app experiences are also more consistent across hardware.
Native mobile app vs web app pros and cons are vast. Native apps tend to be trusted and get more usage time because they can work offline and are supposedly vetted by the app stores. Web apps act like mobile apps but are essentially just web pages.
Ultimately, any difference between native app and web app experiences come down to development.
Let’s answer the obvious question: what is a hybrid app? A hybrid app is a cross between a web app and a native app. It’s designed in a web app language (HTML for instance), but it can still be downloaded from an app store. This hybrid app functionality grants it the trust of native apps with the server advantages of web apps.
Popular hybrid app examples from 2018 include Facebook, Uber and Marketwatch. As you look further into hybrid apps, you’ll encounter PWAs. The two app styles are very similar, with the primary difference being that PWAs leave distribution entirely at the discretion of the developer.
Native App vs. Hybrid App
Hybrid vs native apps pros and cons are pretty simple. Native apps can more specifically utilize mobile device hardware, but they are less universal. Hybrid apps can be developed once and work on all major platforms, but they won’t be optimized for any one operating system.
If you’re looking at hybrid vs native apps in 2019, you should consider user statistics. Apps downloaded from app stores see roughly 80 percent of smartphone usage time, but that time is split between native and hybrid apps. Choosing between the two ultimate boils down to the functionality of the app. Some apps need the better performance of native design. Some benefit from the universality of hybrid design.
The most important statistic to remember is that 48 percent of all mobile users will stop using an app if they don’t enjoy the experience. Experience is king, and it will dictate which language is the best for the development of an app.
Native App vs. Web App vs. Hybrid
The easiest way to look at any difference between native app and web app and hybrid app design is to make a fast list.
Pros of Native App
- Highest possible performance on a mobile device
- High level of trust from users
- Widespread adoption and familiarity from users
Cons of Native App
- Has to be developed from ground up for each operating system, making multi-platform access expensive
- No control over deployment. At the mercy of app stores
- Interactive apps have trouble cross-communicating between different operating systems
- Takes longer to build
- Can be expensive to build
Pros of Web App
- Cheap to develop. Web app languages are largely regarded as the easiest to use
- Universally accessible. Any standard operating system can use the app
- Complete control over deployment. No app store necessary
Cons of Web App
- Often slower/lower performance
- Does not work offline
- Lower trust because it isn’t on an app store
Pros of Hybrid App
- Coded similarly to web app but still available on app store
- More total options in development choices
- User experience feels like native app without drawbacks of native development
Cons of Hybrid App
- Still at the mercy of app store for deployment
- Slower innovation. It’s harder to add universal functions as opposed to native functions
- Security. It’s much harder to secure sourcecode on a hybrid app than a native app
Mobile App Development
After all of these considerations, you still have to start the app to ever see it in operation. The beginning is often the hardest part. That means you have two choices. You can hire an app developer (or developer team), or you can build it yourself. If the second option feels intimidating, then you need to learn more about Lumavate.
Lumavate is an open-source, no-code app builder. It’s searchable, which drives higher SEO rankings, and it works across all devices and systems. This is because it uses an open-source library to allow you to develop app functions without having to write the code from scratch. You can use premade templates, or you can dig deep for precise design options. It’s all up to you, and it’s easier to use than you would expect.
Mobile App Backend
When you’re ready to learn how to host a mobile app, you’ll start learning about mobile app backend. It’s basically the bones of mobile app server hosting. Ultimately, you can build your own backend or buy it from a third party. This ultimately boils down to how much control you need over server hosting. For some simple apps, buying works great. For apps that have heavy and frequent user interactions, you might want that extra control.
That said, with Lumavate, you can build an app yourself in a matter of hours. It gives you control without the burden. It really is the best of both worlds. Create a free account on Lumavate and try it yourself.
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