The difference between these technologies and what it means for your digital experiences.

Native Mobile App vs. Web App

Mobile App Development

When you decide that you want to go into app development, it’s important to understand the different choices available. When building, you can either develop a native mobile app, web app, or a Progressive Web App (PWA). We’ll now compare and contrast these different methods to help decide which option is best for you.

Difference Between Website and Web Application

Let’s first look at the difference between a website and a web application. The main difference to understand is that a web app is interactive where a website is not. A website has static information displayed to the user, where a web app has functions and processes that the user can use for interaction.

Difference Between Native App and Web App and Hybrid App

When considering app building, there are different ways to build an app. Using the native approach, these apps are built “native” to a device. That being said, once built on one operating system, it cannot be used on another. A web app works very differently; these apps function on internet browsers, so they can be used on any operating system. Hybrid apps work with both methods; they are web apps that work in a native browser.

Difference Between App Developer and Web Developer

For the people that build apps and websites, it's important to look at the differences between these positions. An app developer involves building apps, whether that be for the web or mobile devices. A web developer on the other hand only typically deals with processes on the web. They may build web apps, websites, special widgets, or more.


Another consideration you have to make when thinking about app building is mobile app server hosting. This is essentially where your app will live while it is being accessed by your audience. One good example is Amazon Web Services, which hosts websites and web apps. Once you understand how to host a mobile app, the whole app building process becomes a little easier.

Who Builds the App?

While app building technology is growing rapidly, now anyone can build mobile apps. But on the other hand, mobile app backend technology is also improving to give developers more tools when building apps. That being said, app builders and developers are now more sophisticated than ever.

App Cloud

One term that is somewhat vague in terms of its meaning is app cloud. This essentially involves a cloud database for mobile apps that is a software-as-a-service (SaaS) product that has scalability. Cloud mobile app solutions are completely changing the industry as we know it.

Cloud App vs Mobile App

When thinking about cloud apps, you can’t forget about mobile apps and how they differ. The main difference is that cloud apps operate on the cloud, while mobile apps are built with native languages and can be used offline. Be sure to look up mobile cloud applications examples to get a better sense of the differences.

Native App Examples

You can’t think of building apps without thinking about native app development. Native apps are truly “native” to the device they’re built for, and these can’t be used on any other device. These apps are built for one operating system, and a completely separate development needs to happen to create an app that can work on another operating system.

Native App vs Web App vs Hybrid

Compared to other apps, native app development is far more limited. For web apps, these apps are built once, then are housed over the web. That means any device that has access to an internet browser can use these apps. For hybrid apps, these are a combination of both methods. They are built using native coding languages, but they also have some web-based elements to them. Be sure to do an internet search for how to identify app is native or hybrid.

Native App vs Web App Pros and Cons

If you want to responsive apps quickly, then web apps are the way to go. These apps can be developed extremely fast, and they are typically far more responsive than native apps. Native apps are also far more expensive to build.

Mobile Web App

Now we’ll dive into mobile web applications. A mobile web application is an app that lives on the web. Everything these apps do is powered by the elements that are found on servers on the internet. Also, a mobile web app is just like a web application, but it is used on a mobile device. Be sure to Google mobile web app examples to get a better sense of the differences. 

Is it Better to Use an App or the Website?

Sometimes, it may make more sense to use a website over a mobile app. But if the website isn’t mobile-friendly, then you’ll definitely want to use the mobile app. Additionally, a mobile app tends to have more capabilities and may be more useful for the user. Some of the best examples of PWAs today are Trivago and The Weather Channel. Be sure to look up mobile app vs website statistics to get a better sense of how they perform.

HTML5 vs Native Apps Pros and Cons

This has been a big topic of discussion recently. In short, many customers prefer native apps, but there are some big negatives about them. Some people note that there are user experience issues with HTML5, but customers love how native apps work.

Hybrid App

Hybrid apps are apps that are loved by many users. Hybrid apps are apps that are built in a hybrid app framework, and it’s important to note that these apps essentially work like web apps. However, it's important to note that these apps came before PWAs. These apps were a step towards a web environment, and then PWAs came in to be completely utilized by users everywhere.

Hybrid App Examples

To get a better idea of how hybrid apps work, we’ll now look at some examples. But first, there is one common question floating around this topic: “is Facebook a hybrid app?” And the answer to that is yes. Facebook is an app that has completely owned the hybrid space. Some other notable hybrid apps today are Walmart, Twitter, Uber, and Pinterest. Another common question asks if WhatsApp is native or hybrid app. To the surprise of many, it is actually a native app.

What is a Progressive Web App (PWA)?

If you aren’t very excited about native mobile apps and hybrid apps, then a great alternative is Progressive Web Apps! Many people really love these apps because they function just like native apps, but they have many more benefits! A Progressive Web App is essentially like a website that you access on your phone, but you also have certain app-like capabilities like you have on a native mobile app. And the best part is, these apps can work on any device with an internet browser! To better understand how these apps work, then it’s best to look at a Progressive Web App example. Some notable examples are Trivago, Starbucks, and Forbes.

To see a more hands on PWA example, you can view Lumavate’s full list of PWA templates here

Progressive Web App Tutorial

To get a better sense of how these apps work, you should try building a PWA yourself using Lumavate. We’ve done the hard work for you so all you have to do is go in and make the app feel like your own! Also, be sure to check out this conversion here between Lumavate’s President, Stephanie Cox, and Alex Russell. They discuss everything there is to know about PWAs!

Let’s Look at These Applications Back to Back

Now that you have a better understanding of the different types of applications available today, we’ll now go in-depth about how they differ. Keep reading to learn everything there is to know about mobile apps!

Native Mobile App vs. Web App

When you’re looking to build apps in the world we live in today, users are typically torn between these two choices: native apps or web apps. However, the native mobile app vs web app debate can be very complex and it can be difficult to know where to start. Before you understand anything else, the main difference between native app and web app development is that web apps are made in a small fraction of the time. Another key fact is that native apps are built to be “native” to a specific device, while web apps live on the internet, so they can be accessed by any operating system on any device.

HTML5 vs Native Apps Pros and Cons

Another option is hybrid apps, or HTML5. However, there are mixed reviews when it comes to choosing this method or native app apps. One pro about HTML5 apps is that they only need to be built once, then they work on any device. But one downfall is the user experience. For native apps, many users love the unique functions that usually can’t be found on HTML5 apps.


When comparing apps, another big topic of discussion surrounds web app vs native app performance. When it comes to fixing bugs and having a high level of convenience, then PWAs  win the battle. Consumers are enamoured by PWAs and actually prefer them over native mobile apps. 

Web App vs Mobile App

This is another comparison that is worth noting. The difference between web application and mobile application involves where the app predominantly lives. If it’s on your mobile device, then it is a mobile app. If it only operates on the internet, then it is a web app. To learn more about this topic, be sure to look up the difference between mobile application and web application testing. Additionally, it's smart to research mobile app vs mobile website statistics and web app vs mobile app Reddit. To get more insights on the development side, look up web app vs Java app. And if you want further information about Progressive Web Apps, then check out this podcast.

Native App vs Hybrid App

Another tough choice that people are forced to make is to choose a native app or a hybrid app. If a business is looking for an app that has certain functionalities like Bluetooth, then a native app may be the way to go. But if a company is looking to crank out multiple apps quickly and have them available on any operating system, then hybrid apps are a good option for you. The testing is also a big factor to consider. The difference between native and hybrid app testing lies with the fact that these apps are built very differently. That being said, when testing, performance will be tested on each type of app, then comparisons are made.

Native vs Hybrid App Comparison

To better understand the difference of the apps, let’s look at the difference between native and hybrid app with example. Some examples of native apps are Google Maps, LinkedIn, and PokemonGO. Some examples of hybrid apps are Evernote, Baskin Robbins, and Uber. Be sure to look up an updated hybrid vs native app 2019 list to see what other apps are out there. There is a long list of hybrid vs native apps pros and cons, so doing research will help to point you in the right direction.

Web App vs. Website

Are you confused about web apps and how they differ from websites? The one difference to make about this web app vs website topic is that a web app offers certain functions and interactive elements, while a website is typically static and doesn’t offer different capabilities that provides a deeper interaction. And when it comes to apps vs websites usage, apps tend to be focused on more than just displaying information. For instance, Google Sheets would be a web app because there are tons of functionalities and interactive elements. But if a restaurant has a website that simply displays their menu and other info, then this would just be considered a website and not a web app.

Web Application vs Desktop Application Pros and Cons

On your computer, you probably have a number of applications on your desktop. This might include Microsoft Word, Excel, or an email app. But when it comes to a web application, these work much differently. A desktop app can most likely be used without an internet connection and the data used on that app is housed on your computer and the app itself. But with web apps, these apps solely work over the web and typically operate in a cloud environment. That means all of that storage and data is processed over the web instead of the app or computer. When it comes to the key difference between mobile application and desktop application, a desktop application works on a desktop computer, while a mobile application is operated on a mobile device.

How this applies to your digital experience strategy

Any one of these different technologies can be a useful tool in your digital experience strategy. It is all about aligning whichever category makes the most sense for each step in the customer journey. A web app could be perfect for one touchpoint where a website would be better suited for another. If you want to start building digital experiences today, contact Lumavate today!

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