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Web Apps 101


The past couple of years have a seen a lot of talk about the mobile battle between the Native App and Web Apps. Words like HTML5, Javascript, CSS3, Objective C, and Java have been thrown around in a frenzy to determine who will be the eventual victor in the smartphone era. But what does it all mean?

Let’s take a few steps back and cover the basics: What’s the difference between a Native App and a Web App?

Native Apps: A native app is a standalone bit of software that I can download directly onto a smartphone, typically via an “app store”.


    • Available through the smartphone’s app store (Apple App Store, Google Play Store, etc.)
    • App is able to use the device platform for additional functionality, like push notifications,  the device camera, etc.
    • Some native apps are able to function with no internet connection


    • When there are updates to the app, I have to update manually through the app store.
    • A native app is developed with a single platform in mind: Android, iOS, Windows Phone, etc. If a developer wants to make the app available for multiple platforms, then he’ll have to develop the app multiple times in different programming languages.
The native app is a popular option for most users, as many people are familiar with on their smartphones. However, with the increased functionality of mobile browsers, web apps have taken a more notable stance in the debate.

Web Apps: A web app functions within web browsers on mobile devices.


    • There’s no need to download anything, which saves room on my phone. Web apps are accessed via a mobile browser with an internet connection.
    • Updates to the Web App appear instantly. No more waiting for an update to download.
    • Developers only have to build a single version of the app that can run available on multiple platforms.
    • My account info that I store in a web app is accessible from any device, including my PC, at anytime.


    • Requires an internet connection to function.
    • Does not yet support some smartphone functionality, like push notifications or storage on the device.

Many popular native apps also come in a mobile web app form, like Facebook, Twitter, Wikipedia, and most news sites. There are also hundreds of other web apps out there that offer productivity tools, weather forecasts, and time-wasting amusement.

So I understand the difference between a native app and a web app: now which should I use? That, my friend, depends on the user. I am partial to the web app experience, because I can do all my smartphone functions (responding to email, checking social media, shopping, reading news) in my browser. Gone are the days of switching between several apps, which takes time, hinders my work flow and kills my battery.

Do you primarily use native apps, or are you more of a fan of the web app? Let us know in the comments below, or over on our Facebook page!

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