Native v. Mobile Web Apps Is Not an Either-Or Choice

Native v. Mobile Web Apps Is Not an Either-Or Choice

Posted by: Rahul Vyas | Posted on: May 9th, 2014

Whether to go for mobile web apps or native apps is still a question that haunts some companies, but as far as the consumer is concerned the issue is settled, because there is no issue. Consumers use native mobile apps, mobile web apps and hybrid apps according to their preferences and needs and usually use all three according to purpose.

However, the issue remains for companies, because according to functions offered, and where user-experience and budgets have to be balanced, there are significant differences between native mobile apps and mobile web apps – while the latter is more cost efficient both in the long and short term and more accessible, the former, though costly, usually provides better performance and better user-experience.






Now, if all that talk went over your head, and you are really trying to make sense of internet jargon and apps, let’s break it down into classroom definitions to make things easier:

Native Apps – Native apps live on the handheld device – usually smartphone or tablet – and can be accessed through icons. They are usually platform specific and can be downloaded from the Apple App store, or Android stores depending upon your OS. Native apps can be configured to use all the features of your handheld device including the camera, the GPS, the compass, the what-not, and can perform specific functions with the power of your device’s hardware. The complexities of functions that can be performed by native apps are also limited by your hardware specifications.

Mobile Web Apps – Mobile web apps are really mobile websites or web pages optimized for mobile access that serve as gateways to services. Mobile web apps are usually made of HTML5 and CSS3, though once flash based apps were also popular. However, with more and more websites becoming “responsive” and able to adapt to different browser sizes, the differences between regular websites and mobile web apps are disappearing. Today’s mobile web apps use almost all features of native apps including touch sensitivity.

Hybrid Apps – Hybrid apps are really mobile web apps accessible through a browser embedded in a native app. The advantage is they can be made available through app stores and are downloadable from there. Hybrid apps have an advantage in that the same HTML code can be reused for different platforms.

So, like all things in life, there needs to be a trade-off, or maybe not, because HTML5 has made a significant difference to the mobile web. Mobile web pages can now be wrapped into minimal native app interfaces and made to behave perfectly like full-fledged native mobile apps, but without the huge cost overhead. Still, hybrid apps are essentially browsers embedded into native apps that connect to mobile web apps, and hence the performance issues remain, though things are getting better every day.

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