Before you decide on a solution and start an app project, you need to understand the difference between different types of apps.
In this post, we compare mobile web apps with the other types of apps like native apps, hybrid apps, webapps, mobile web apps and websites optimized for mobile devices to know why the mobile web app stands out from the others.
Web app vs. Website
A website is viewed as an Internet resource that passively provides information.
In contrast, a web app offers a higher level of interaction, integration and authentication, which enables users to interactively intervene in a process, depending on the purpose of a web app.
But more and more website operators are trying to introduce interactive clickable elements – such as sliders, videos, surveys, infographics and even quizzes – into their informative websites or news portals to turn passive observers into active participants and of a number of advantages – including better SEO, increased conversion rate, happier visitors and more.
Mobile web app vs. Mobile website
Websites and web apps can be optimized for use on mobile devices – especially on smartphones and tablets – and accessed from there via the browser.
Depending on the purpose for which an app type is available to a mobile user – simply providing information or integrating visitors into the process flow speaks well of a mobile web app.
Mobile users can find it difficult to see whether they are dealing with a mobile website or a mobile web app in the first few minutes because transitions are very fluid.
But there is a difference: a mobile website was previously created as a supplement to the desktop version for the website, which made it possible to display the content (often in a reduced form) on certain end devices.
In this case, it was about creating at least 2 layouts that were adapted to the size and width of the corresponding screen.
However, layouts created separately also require increased maintenance.
Responsive web design, which is used when programming web apps, offers a flexible solution for displaying mobile web apps on as many mobile devices as possible.
It is a matter of creating just one layout that automatically adapts to the end device used.
Mobile web app vs. Native app
We have already found that a classic mobile web app:
- can be accessed and executed via a browser on mobile devices
- requires a good internet connection to run
- requires no download required in the store (nor download of updates, which enables a user to access the latest version immediately).
- Requires no installation (but there is an app format that can be installed in a special way, which allows for the expansion of the range of functions).
Mobile web apps have an obvious advantage over native apps: they are platform-independent and can easily be found via search engines (without active promotion in stores), which significantly increases awareness.
A native app is specially optimized for a mobile target platform – Android, iOS or Windows.
Languages that are understandable for the target system are used for their programming.
Native apps must be uploaded to the respective store and installed on the operating system of a device.
Compared to mobile web apps, native apps offer some advantages because they:
- can work offline at any time
- performs better
- can be used byand hardware components such as GPS, sensors, microphone or camera.
A major disadvantage of native apps is that you have to develop the new app for each individual operating system, which requires more development and maintenance.
Mobile web app vs. Hybrid app
Hybrid apps combine certain features of both native and mobile web apps and thus represent a special type of mobile app.
Similar to a mobile web app, a hybrid app only has to be programmed once (this helps to save costs and effort), is also used independently of the platform and can be executed and run via a mini browser WebView integrated in the operating system.
Just like a native app, a hybrid app must also be downloaded from the store and installed on the mobile device.
The installation can run offline at any time and offers the option of accessing hardware functions (not all but several).
What sets Progressive Web Apps apart from all other types of apps
Progressive web apps (PWAs) are very popular because they go one step further than hybrid apps and combine even more advantages of mobile web apps and native apps and make them available to users.
More and more companies are of the opinion that the future belongs to this app format in different areas.
The technical peculiarities of progressive web apps enable:
“Install” PWAs on a mobile device by adding them to the start screen and thereby gain access to additional functions of the end device such as geolocation, camera, microphone, battery status (although they still run in the browser).
- Send push messages.
- Caching data through Service Workers and being partially available offline.
- Respond to all types of data input (touch gestures, speech recognition).
- Go to full screen mode or change the layout based on the screen size.
Harnil Oza is CEO of Hyperlink InfoSystem, a mobile app development company in New York and India, having a team of the top app developers who deliver the best mobile solutions mainly on Android and iOS platforms. He regularly contributes his knowledge on leading blogging sites.