Mobile Apps vs. Web Apps: What’s the Difference?

By Ajay Goyal

For a layman, the difference between a mobile app and web app may be negligible. But, they both are very different. The difference between the two is not just for users. The process of developing and deploying them is also separate.

A Native App is usually developed for a particular mobile platform. It is installed on the device directly. If the users want to use these native mobile apps, they have to download it from the app/play store.

A Web App is an app that can be accessed via mobile’s or web’s browser. It is Internet-enabled, and users don’t have to download them to access it.

Also, there is a slight difference between a web app and website. A web app is a website which has a flexible design and responds well when viewed on mobile devices. Web apps functions as an app that can be downloaded both from desktop and phone’s browser.

Web apps vs Mobile apps: What’s The Difference?

Here are some points that will help you to understand the difference between mobile native and web apps clearly.


Native Mobile Apps: When you hire the best mobile app development company, they create this app for one platform. They are platform specific- Windows for Nokia or IOS for Apple iPhone. Users are required to download them from app/play store. Also, these native apps are allowed to access system resources like GPS, contacts and so on. Some examples of native apps are- Instagram, Hike, and Paytm and so on.

Web Apps: They are not platform specific. These apps are accessed on the browser of mobile or desktop. They need an Internet connection and adapt to the device which they are viewed on. Users are not required to install or download them to use them. Also, they are very responsive just like a mobile app.

Development of the mobile app and web app

When you hire a web app development service or the mobile app development company, you need to be clear on the choice of app. The creation and deployment of the app can be done on both native mobile platform and web browser. So according to your needs, you have to decide on it.

Both the apps have a distinguished app development processes:

Native Mobile Apps: All mobile platforms follow unique native app creation steps. Also, the programming language used by each platform is different too. For example- Java for Android and Swift for iPhone.

Web Apps: They make use of Web application frameworks for their development. The popular frameworks are- JavaScript, HTML5, and CSS3 and so on.

Moreover, there are many frameworks and tools in the market that develops apps for both mobile and web. All this depends on your budget and the right app development company. As they can help you find the best option for your business.


Most of the mobile native apps and web apps User-Interface looks the same. There are only minor differences which will not be easily visible to the user.

A native mobile app UI is designed keeping in mind the platform and its guidelines. The graphical UI should be such that users are able to view and load it fast on their mobile devices.

A Web app UI is flexible so that it can adjust many devices. A web app can be viewed on a desktop, phone or a tab. Thus, its design should be coherent which works well on any device irrespective of the screen size. Also, the feel and look it presents to the user via any device must also be same.


Native Apps :A native app’s accessibility is compatible fully with the mobile’s hardware.

Also, it is compatible with some inbuilt feature of the device like Camera, GPS, and others. A native app needs to constantly update itself to run and incorporate new feature.

Web Apps: A web app is not able to access any native features of the platform/device it runs on. A web app loads from the web whenever you access it. Thus, it updates itself without the user having to initiate it.

Expenditure involved

Native App: Since native apps are faster and efficient, they are an expensive investment. Also, for assured quality and long run from the apps. It is crucial that you hire the best mobile app development company. This makes them a bit more expensive than a web app.

Web App: They are not expensive to create. But to maintain their quality on so many platforms, a lot of maintenance cost is required.

Internet connection requirements

Native Apps: Some mobile native apps can work offline. But they do need an internet connection for updates.

Web App: All web apps need a continuous internet connection. Also, they update themselves whenever you run them.

Mobile Vs Web Apps- what is the difference is covered with these points.  It is necessary to know the difference before the firm decides to develop an app. In the end, the decision now depends on budget and requirement of business.

So, if your budget is huge, you can even opt for both types of app. If a company has both a mobile app and web app, the color scheme, design and fonts will be the same. But the end result would be slightly different.

How to develop mobile native apps?

  • Native mobile apps are platform specific. Thus, deploying them across each platform requires time and money.
  • Each platform has its own guidelines, design and deployment process.
  • So, every time you need to start creating them from scratch. Some cross-platform app development tools may help ease the process. But still, it requires a huge budget.
  • A native app is created using specific languages and IDE (Integrated Development Environment). Every platform has its own language and dedicated IDE.
  • An Apple device operating the system is native IOS. The language used is Objective-C or Swift. While the IDE required is XCode.
  • Android native apps use the Java for coding. The IDE used by them is Android Studio and Eclipse, but the latter is slowly being dropped by every user.
  • Moreover, the best mobile app development companies make use of tools and SDK provided by Apple and Google.

How are web apps built?

  • Web apps are created using web frameworks. The most notable frameworks include JavaScript, CSS, and HTML5.
  • Web apps have no standard software development kit for developing web apps. The hired web app development company can use to templates.
  • They have simple features, thus building web apps takes less time and efforts.

Progressive web app

  • Progressive web apps can work offline like native apps. They also load quicker than standard web apps.
  • They work offline due to advancement in a web browser. Also, the application cache feature helps them to store bulk data offline.
  • When they work offline they have some features similar to native mobile apps. These include native video and audio capture, video playback and even push notification.
  • Similar to web apps, these progressive apps also have no need for installation or download. They are responsive and independent of internet connection. These features make them the best of both worlds.

The advantages and disadvantages of Mobile vs web apps.

Now let’s review the pros and cons of both Mobile app and Web app.

Native mobile apps


  • They load quicker than web apps.
  • They can access system resources. This means their functionality is good.
  • Some native apps work offline.
  • The native apps must be approved by the app/play store. Thus, they are safe and secured.
  • They can be created easily because developer tools, interface elements and SDKs are available.


  • Expensive to create than web apps.
  • They need to compatible with each platform. This means they need to be designed from scratch every time.
  • Maintenance cost is high.
  • Approval for going public takes time.

Web apps


  • No need to download or install web app as they work well in-browser.
  • They have common codebase irrespective of platform and device. This makes them easy to maintain.
  • They update on their own.
  • They can be created easily and quickly.
  • Launching is easy as no approval from play store is required.


  • Web apps don’t work offline.
  • Loads slowly and have less advanced features.
  • They are not listed in any specific database. This means fewer people know about them, which makes it less discoverable.
  • We can’t be assured about the quality and safety measures incorporated by web apps.

Hopefully, Mobile app vs web app- what’s the difference was made clearer.

Now before hiring the best mobile app Development Company, make sure you know the difference. You must be able to tell the team exactly what you want from the app and where you want to run it. Only, then you can develop an app that will be successful for your business.

Ajay Goyal is a co-founder & Director of Endive Software. As a technology enthusiast, he manages the web and mobile app development team to help them to build unique solutions. Apart from that he regularly updates with the latest and trendy technology.

Application stock photo by BestStockFoto/Shutterstock