For the first time the average time spent on mobile devices is estimated to go beyond the time spent watching Television. eMarketer projected that the average US Adult will spend 3hrs 43minutes on mobile devices in 2019.
These are ripe conditions for developing a targeted app for your services. Creating an app for your business is considered as the fastest route to accelerated growth.
As technologies for both web and mobile apps have evolved rapidly, organizations fall into the dilemma of choosing the right medium to reach target customers. There are situations in which organizations can develop either a web app or a mobile app due to budget constraints.
However, most entrepreneurs do not know the difference between them, and what impact will choosing either have on their business. Hence, the task of evaluating the right one for their business is on-to them.
This turns into a ‘Mobile App Vs Web app’ situation for them.
What is a Mobile App?
Mobile Apps are a part of our daily routine and there are very few who live in an isolated world away from Mobile apps. Any application that can run on a handheld or mobile device (like a smartphone or tablet) with a function of providing a service to its users is categorized as a mobile application.
iOS and Android are leaders in the Mobile App domain, followed by Microsoft. Most organizations focus first on developing apps for iOS and Android and target the remaining platforms when these catch up. This is due to the broad user base for Android and iOS in the global market, both covering around 75.85% and 22.87% respectively.
A broad distinction of Mobile Apps can be made into Native and Hybrid mobile apps.
Native Mobile Application
Mobile apps that are created for a targeted platform using the platform-specific SDK are categorized into Native Mobile Apps. Most Native mobile apps are targeted towards Android development (built using Android framework) or iOS development (using Xcode or Swift). In the case of Native mobile apps, performance and compatibility with the underlying hardware are the primary focus.
Hybrid Mobile Application
Hybrid Mobile apps are developed on platforms that will provide you with code that is compatible with all available operating systems. Due to the use of a single code-base, Hybrid Mobile apps are more popular among Startups and Small & Medium Enterprises for having their apps created in a single go. The most popular Hybrid app development platforms are – Flutter, React Native, and Ionic.
Here is a consolidated list of Mobile App development Frameworks which ruled 2023.
A few basic questions before building a Mobile App:
- Does your target audience use mobile apps?
- How often do you think your customers will use your app?
- Does your app provide any unique service not available in existing mobile apps?
- Will having a mobile app improve our services in any fashion?
- Does your mobile app utilize any of the phone’s features like camera or integration with payment apps?
- Is the projected profit from building a mobile app comparable to the development cost?
- Is your mobile development a Customer identified need, or a Marketing identified need?
For further details regarding the feasibility checks for mobile apps, you can read – Top Questions To Answer When Building An App For Your Startup
You should NOT go ahead with developing a mobile app:
- If you do not have a viral promotion strategy for your app.
- Just because you have a great idea and no plan.
What is a Web App?
Web Application is a self-sustaining software that completely runs on the web browser. The web application does not need to be downloaded and installed on the local machine of the end user. The web applications can span over multiple pages or be restricted to a single page.
The benefit of building a web app is that it can be used across web browsers irrespective of the underlying platform. They do not have to be custom-built for a platform or hardware. Hence, it reduces the overall development efforts required in contrast to writing code that needs to be migrated over multiple platforms.
The GSuite from Google and Office 365 from Microsoft are prominent examples of web applications that can be put to daily use.
A web app would be right for you if -
- The Webpage layout provides a better interface for your application.
- Your target customer market prefers using browsers rather than a mobile.
- You want to apply dynamic updates to the entire application.
A few special cases when you should not opt for a web app:
- You need to communicate with the server even in offline mode.
- The application consists of multiple functionalities and interfaces
A major challenge most organizations foresee is language compatibility of Web applications. Are we supposed to build an entirely different app catering to each major language or be dependent on standard translators? For hurdles that you face while building Multilingual Web Applications – do read the following blog. - Challenges of building a multilingual web application.
Web Apps vs Mobile Apps - Comparison
The total time users spend on websites when using desktop devices is larger than the total time for mobile.
An average mobile user spends more time on Mobile applications than a web browser. The daily time spent on mobile and desktops are 132mins and 39mins respectively.
Cannot support Complex Functionalities
Flexible interfaces and supports complex functionalities
Patches/Updates are applied directly to the entire application
Updates/Patches have to be downloaded from Play Store and applied by the user
Doesn’t involve downloading
Needs downloading and installation
Developers need not cater to the underlying platform
Developers need to write code targeting a specific platform or hardware.
Monetization of web apps are easier
The monetization strategy of mobile apps is still evolving
Progressive Web Apps - A middle ground to Web and Mobile apps
PWAs were introduced to provide the properties of a mobile application over a web browser. Using web technologies like HTML, CSS, and JS, Progressive web apps provide an experience of using a Native Mobile application.
The term ‘Progressive Web Apps’ was introduced by Chrome Developers – Alex Russel and Frances Berriman at Google. Their vision focused on creating better experiences across devices by using a single codebase.
The focus is towards creating web applications that have a look and feel exactly like native apps, without having the users to download and install any software.
Benefits of using a Progressive Web App
Fast and Reliable
Normal web apps are highly dependent on the bandwidth of the network. Progressive web apps are lightweight, and they load instantly, regardless of the state of the network. Pre-caching enables PWAs to eliminate the dependence on the network. ‘Service Worker’ is a concept by google which involves a script that runs in the background independent of the webpage. This gives the developers complete control over even offline experiences.
Performance is a common problem most face when dealing with web apps. High-performing websites show more engagement with its end users and in turn attract more traffic. As PWAs load faster even on low bandwidth networks they provide a better user experience.
Native web experience without having to download
Although the number of users with smartphones and the number of mobile app downloads are remarkably increasing per year, most users are reluctant to download new apps which are not daily use. The applications that occupy around 50% of the usage are Social Media, Music, and Games.
More than 50% of the app users in 2017 from the U. S. have downloaded zero new mobile applications per month, according to Statista. The learning from here is that users are selective in the apps they download. Progressive web apps provide them the option of using an online app without having to locally download it on their device.
PWAs are easier to develop and are scalable as they use a single-codebase. When your mobile applications are performance-driven it is recommended that they be developed on a native platform. Hence, they need to be custom made for each platform that they need to be hosted on. Even if they are developed on a hybrid platform the cost of development and maintenance of a mobile app is more than that of a PWA.
Updated at Real-Time
Unlike mobile apps that require the users to go to the app store and download the update, PWAs are updated in real-time. Hence, once the developer pushes an update it is reflected to all users automatically. This enables regular improvements in functionality and features without having to enforce users to take any action. This resolves the problem of any underlying platform being outdated or End-of-service for any primitive OS.
Cons of using a progressive web app
Consume more battery power
As Progressive web apps are written in high-level code, it consumes a lot of resources in interpretation. Since they are not optimized for specific hardware or software the power consumption while using PWAs are remarkably higher than during Native Mobile applications.
Limited offline features
Even though offline execution is supported with PWAs the possibilities of execution are very limited.
Limited usage of device hardware
Unlike native apps, PWAs have very limited flexibility when using the underlying device hardware and APIs. This limits the functionality of the Application.
Progressive web apps - Success Stories
Some of the success stories hosted by google regarding the increase in productivity by Organizations after adopting Progressive web apps:
- Infobae a digital news outlet based in Argentina confirms 230% longer sessions than on their standard website along with 3 times more page views after the use of progressive web applications.
- A UK clothing brand com noticed the following changes after the introduction of PWAs
- 8 times faster load time, 2 times lower bounce rate, 28% longer time spent on site
- Nikkei a publishing company in Japan witnessed remarkable growth in their business benefits with
- 49% more active users, Doubled page views per session, 3x organic traffic
- Alibaba the world’s largest B2B trading platform had a whopping 76% higher conversions across browsers, 4 times higher interaction rate and 14% and 30% more active users on iOS and Android respectively.
Users consider having to download an app to browse or complete a transaction an unnecessary barrier, compared to the quick, easy solution of browsing directly from their mobile browser
Zou Yu, director of Alibaba.com’s mobile team.
Read here for more success stories like these on Progressive web apps.
Consult with an Expert
For choosing the right medium to host your services it is necessary to know these fundamental differences. Keeping in mind the user volume that your application would service and potential of expansion of features you can decide on the right channel to have your application created.
Post that you need to find a solution expert who can guide you on the right development platform to deliver your application. For any queries regarding developing the right app, either mobile, web or progressive web apps, you can reach out to us at Clarion Technologies.
Clarion has been working in the web and mobile development for the past 2 decades. Housing experts in UI-UX, Frontend, Backend and a range of Frameworks, we can guide you with the right platforms catering to your needs to build your next application.