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  • Writer's pictureKatarzyna Hasnik

What is the difference between a native mobile app and a web app? 🤔

Updated: Feb 16, 2021

We recognise 4 different types of apps.

  1. Native Mobile App

  2. Web App

  3. Hybrid App and

  4. Progressive App

In this short post, we focus on the two primary apps meaning Native Mobile App and Web App.

Native Mobile App

Native Apps are the most common apps due to their advantages. They are installed directly on the mobile device.

How the Native Mobile Apps are built?

They are designed and coded in a specific programming language for the specific operating software. For example, in the Swift programming language Native Mobile Apps are written for iOS operating software for all Apple mobile devices as iPhones, iPads. On the other hand, Java language is used to program Native Apps for Android operating software for example for Samsung devices. Windows used C# (pronounce C sharp) and for Blackberries Native Apps are written in C++ or using the Cascades, which is a combination of Javascript and QM.

Advantages of Native Mobile Apps

  • Native Mobile Apps are directly installed on Mobile Device, which increases Speed and can Work Offline without Internet Connection, however depending on the specific nature of the Product Design.

  • The Design itself of the Native Mobile App takes under consideration the design requirements from the specific operating system, which brings altogether a better Design, Feel and Look and overall User Experience.

  • Generally, they are more efficient and User Friendly because they take User Location, TimeZone, Preferences, Camera, Gallery under consideration to be more useful for overall User Experience.

  • Native Mobile Apps maintain the aspect of the ratios, meaning the width to height of different devices screens to determine the quality of the display images.

  • Much more Secure for User Sensitive Data.

  • High Quality of User-Centred Design.

Disadvantages of Native Mobile Apps

  • Length of Downloading Process and the User Experience

Download Process includes several steps and takes time, meaning first User has to find the app in the Google Play Store, Apple Store or Windows Store, review the App, Install it, wait for the Installation Process, Open the App, Sign up, Create Content, Set up all User Settings, including switching off or on Notifications, and share with friends if likes to do it. This is Time Consuming and not so straight forward approach. Overall Installation Process is not really User Friendly.

  • Amount of Data Storage Place necessary to download and maintain the App

Direct Installation on the Mobile Device to maintain the App, slow down the Mobile Device itself and consume much more Battery, meaning Mobile Device has to bee charged more often.

  • Expensive and Time-Consuming Development

The overall cost of developing of the Native Mobile App is more expensive and time consuming. To hire Developer with the specific coding language is more expensive, also the Product Owner has to actually pay for few apps depends of the operating system if wants to reach all spectrum of the User audience on the Market Place. Certain Native Mobile Apps are only for iOS or Android meaning Users cannot use them depends of their own mobile device. Marketing needs to take this under consideration while building a social media campaign and strategy of advertisement.

  • Lack of the Flexibility

No Flexibility for DevOps, Developers and Designers and also for Product Owners, the requirements of the specific operating system has restrict regulations which must meet the criteria while designing and developing the Native Mobile App.

  • Frequent Upgrades

For both, Developers and Users are not that friendly. User has to update the app, which might bee simply annoying with the push-up notifications, User might abundant app.

On the other hand Developers and Product Owners need to remember to maintain the app up to recent software updates, which is time consuming and additional costs.


A popular example is WhatsApp, which is Native Mobile App designed for each operating software separately.



Web App

Web Apps are also popular. They applications software that are stored on the remote servers and delivered to User over the Internet connection, either a cell signal through mobile data or the wi-fi connection to be able to function.

Web Apps are delivered through the various browser engines like Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Safari, Opera, Konqueror and Lynx.

How the Mobile Apps are built?

Web Apps are built-in common programming languages like JavaScript, CSS and HTML5 similar way as the websites. Web Apps are responsively designed applications, which easily adapt to the width and the hight of the mobile devices screens.

Advantages of Web Apps

  • Accessibility - much wider accessibility as everyone who has any mobile device can have access to Web App. No requirement to have a specific mobile.

  • Low Cost - to build a web app is less pricey than Native App because first wall the programming languages are more common, every developer who builds the website can also build a Web app. Product Owners invests only in one app, which can be spread to any mobile device without the need to develop separate apps depends on the different and specific operating software.

  • Updates - Web Apps will update themselves without the input of User or constant maintenance of Developers. Because of that the Users are exposed to the same version of the application.

  • No download and no installation is required meaning also consume less storage place on the mobile device and is less time consuming for User to start using the web app itself. No need to search on the App Store, Sign up or give access to your mobile device.

  • Responsive Design - Web App acts responsibility to any device and adapt regardless the size of the device as desktop, tablet, mobile.

  • Easy to Build, Maintain and Release.

Disadvantages of Web Apps

  • Internet access is necessary to be able to use Web App. Web App doesn't work offline meaning in the less common areas while travelling there might be no access till User reaches WiFi connection. This might be problematic for Map Web Apps.

  • No personalise access to User Location, TimeZone, Camera, Gallery, Settings and also not connected to other apps, meaning each data has to be input separately.

  • Typically are much slower than Native Mobile App.

  • Do not always ensure high quality of design and development.

  • Do not maintain security as much as Native Mobile App.


A popular example is Gmail, which is commonly well known example of Web App.

Also well known Web Apps are web-mails, online calculators and online retail e-commerce shops.

Both Native Web App and Web App might have the same capabilities and appearance.

Few words about Hybrid App and Progressive Web App.

Hybrid Apps are built as web apps, however the installation process is like a native app. Commonly known example of Hybrid App is Facebook. However, Facebook Native Mobile App was released for iOS and soon will be launch also for Android.

Progressive Web Apps are starting to be faster and more efficient than Native Mobile App.

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1 Comment

May 03, 2022

Thank you very much for this article! This information is very useful and I saved it directly on favorites pages for blurry days!

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