Mobile application development is similar to Web application development. Web Application needs active internet for it to work on your devices. Mobile App works without an active internet. A mobile app is an application that is directly installed onto the mobile device. Native apps are typically found online or at the App Store. Its strengths include interfacing with the mobile device’s features and information. It also typically performs faster than mobile web apps. A native web app is generally more expensive as it needs to support multiple mobile devices, as each mobile application development platform requires its own development process.
Mobile websites can display text content, data, images and video just like any other website. They can also access mobile-specific features such as click-to-call (to dial a phone number) or location-based mapping.
Apps are actual “applications” that are downloaded and installed on your mobile device. The app may pull content and data from the Internet in similar fashion as a website or it may download the content so that it can be accessed without an Internet connection.
In the future, it’s expected that a majority of mobile application development efforts will focus on creating browser-based applications that are device-agnostic. Browser-based applications are simply websites that are built for mobile browsers. Such sites are built to load quickly over a cellular network and have finger-friendly navigation.
Which is Better – an App or a Mobile (Responsive) Website?
When it comes to deciding whether to build a native app or a mobile website, the most appropriate choice really depends on your end goals. If you are developing an interactive game an app is probably going to be your best option. But if your goal is to offer mobile-friendly content to the widest possible audience then a mobile website is probably the way to go. In some cases you may decide you need both a mobile website and a mobile app, but it’s pretty safe to say that it rarely makes sense to build an app without already having a mobile website in place.
Generally speaking, a mobile website should be considered your first step in developing a mobile web presence, whereas an app is useful for developing an application for a very specific purpose that cannot be effectively accomplished via a web browser.
Advantages of a Mobile Website vs. Mobile (Responsive) Website:
- Compatibility: A single mobile website can reach users across many different types of mobile devices, whereas native apps require a separate version to be developed for each type of device. Furthermore, mobile website URLs are easily integrated within other mobile technologies such as SMS, QR Codes and near field communication (NFC).
- Shareability: Mobile website URLs are easily shared between users via a simple link (e.g. within an email or text message, Facebook or Twitter post). Publishers can easily direct users to a mobile website from a blog or website, or even in print. An app simply cannot be shared in this fashion.
- Time and Cost: Mobile website development is considerably more time and cost-effective than development of a native app, especially if you need to have a presence on different platforms (requiring development of multiple apps).
- Support and Maintenance: The investment considerations of app vs website don’t end with the initial launch; properly supporting and maintaining an app (upgrades, testing, compatibility issues and ongoing development) is more much more expensive and involved than supporting a website over time.