Native Mobile Apps vs Mobile Web Apps

So you've decided to take the plunge and build up your mobile presence. The reasons for this are numerous. Most people have some sort of smartphone these days, many have android or other apps on them. Time on public transport that used to be 'dead time', is rapidly being filled up with thumbs tapping on touch sensitive screens. For those companies smart enough to work on their mobile presence, a whole audience literally at their fingertips has emerged.

So having convinced yourself, this is the way to go, one question may be leaving you in a quandary, Web App or Native App.

Although it is natural to ask what is the difference, lets have a quick look at what both solutions have in common:-

Rich Graphics (either native or HTML5 / CSS based)

Disconnected Storage (yes web apps can access their own HTML5 data store even when offline)

Geolocation (both native and web apps can get your location)

So what is a web app? A web app, is a collection of web pages that appear and behave like an application when viewed on a mobile device.

So what is a native app? A native app, is an app downloaded from the appstore or market place, that is installed locally onto your mobile device. An android app is downloaded.

OK lets look at the advantages of a web app

  • Perhaps one of the biggest advantages of a web app, is that it can be linked to from an email. This makes it the perfect accompaniment for a marketing campaign.
  • A web app is easy to update. Especially if based on a CMS such as Drupal, text can be managed centrally and immediately without the need to redistribute the app.
  • A web app can be found with a Google search.


OK lets look at the advantages of a native app

  • A native app installs an icon on the handset. This is defacto real estate on users handsets and a marketing dream.
  • The files are preloaded when the app is downloaded, making it often much faster in terms of user experience.
  • A native app, can take advantage of many of the phones hardware features such as the camera etc.

Still undecided, well the smart money these days is to build your code base in HTML5 and you can use it to power a native or a web app. Whilst desktops computers are only just catching up with HTML5, all common smartphones support HTML5, leaving no excuses not to have a rich and dazzling mobile user experience driven app.