You may be asking whats the difference between them, well depending on who you talk to a lot. If you ask a developer you may get lectured on which one is better. I’m going to break this down in to the pros and cons of each.
A Web App is an website created using a special set of constraints or a particular framework. One of the most common frameworks is JQuery which I use, this provides certain parts which can be used with in the App. The main purpose is to make the information provided easy to use on a touch screen device while also adjusting to suit the different screen sizes. The Web App is hosted on a server like a website.
Easy to update content
Cheaper to build
Works across a large number of devices
Provides your information at the best size for the device
Doesn’t work if no internet connection
Poor internet can mean the app is slow or unusable
Very little access to internal systems (GPS, Bluetooth, etc)
Some devices may not be able to use it (hardware issues)
Not on app store so people need to know where to look
Doesn’t have the option to generate much revenue
Mobile App (Native)
A mobile app is built using the development frameworks for the relevant OS (Apple, Android & Windows). The app uses the mobile device and its internal hardware to display and function. The different OS’s provide lots of documentation and frameworks to enable you to do lots of clever and cool features like cameras enabling augmented reality or GPS for navigation. You can built pretty much what ever you want with in the limitation of the device. The application can then be put on the app store and disturbed across 155 countries world wide.
The app uses internal hardware so performance is better
It can access most of the devices systems (GPS,Bluetooth,contacts,etc)
The app can work even if there is poor or no internet
If done right it will look more professional and better quality
Available through the app stores so more discoverability
Update information can be provided website when internet available
Ads and Sales can generate revenue
Push notifications informing people of new things with in the app
The app has to be developed for each OS (no universal language)
Design and development is more expensive
Updates can take a couple of weeks to appear in app store
The main driving factor in most peoples choice is the cost of the design and development. A mobile app is more expensive but it provides a better quality product once built.
I started by building mobile applications so I swing slightly in that direction but for smaller businesses or organizations a web app is a good way to enter the mobile market. A mobile app will always give you the best performance and the best look, a good example of this is Facebook. Recently they changed there app, previously it was a shell running a web page they then replaced it with a Native app built for each platform. The reviews following the upgrade showed a 200% speed improvement. For a company like Facebook where the app is constantly used this made a huge difference.
The main sticking point for me is web apps wont work properly when the internet is unavailable which can be an issue in Norfolk where network coverage is not the best.
With all the pros and cons the final decision comes down to what you want to achieve in the mobile world