How do you decide if you need a Mobile App or a Web App? We help unpack the technical differences such as device capabilities and offline access.

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Perhaps you're wishing to create an app to accompany your business as an additional customer touch point, or you've spotted a gap in the market and looking to build an app for your start-up. 

There are 2 main types of apps out there: the mobile app and the web app. To help clear things up we've created this list to run through when considering whether to decide which type of app you need.

Device support

A mobile app only works on mobile devices, e.g. phones and tablets. It won't work on a computer. A web app will work on all devices, e.g. phones, tablets and computers.

Offline access

As a generalisation, a web app requires an internet connection to work, whereas a mobile app does not (you can at the very least, open a mobile app 'offline'). 

Ease of access

A mobile app can only be accessed via an app store, whereas a web app can be released without going through an app store.

Interface design

Mobile app interfaces can be completely native to the app, therefore designers have the greater freedom to create a quality, sleek set of interfaces. A web app, however, needs to adhere to web browser standards in order to provide users with a similar experience irrespective of how they access the app.

Advanced functionality

A mobile app can have software built to meet all types of functionality available to them from the smartphone (e.g. access to contacts, Bluetooth connectivity, ambient light sensor information and some advanced location/camera features). A web app has access to a lot of functionality but not absolutely everything a mobile app can access.

Cost of development

Web apps typically cost less than mobile apps to develop. As app developers, we often get enquirers asking for a mobile app when actually the functionality means that a cheaper-costing web app is more suitable, which is always received well. Both types have potentially similar long-term maintenance costs but mobile app technology potentially needs to be kept more up-to-date year to year.


Web apps cannot produce 'push notifications' on all mobile platforms, whereas mobile apps can.

Ease of development

A mobile app is built for each platform, such as iOS for iPhones and Android for non-Apple smartphones.  There are ways to minimise the additional development required between iOS and Android but there is a cost factor.  A web app only requires one version to work on all platforms.

If you would like to discuss your app project more, please call 01442 211999 for a free consultation.

Published by AppDrawn