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10/18/2018 10:43:59 AM
The differences between web apps and native apps
Web Apps vs Responsive Apps vs Native Apps
App Developer Magazine
The differences between web apps and native apps


The differences between web apps and native apps

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Richard Harris Richard Harris

There are many differences between responsive apps, native apps, and eve web apps. Most of them start with the hardware layer and what's available for a developer to use when building an application. Follow this guide to dive deeper.

Even in 2018, years past the origional question, the debate rages on across the land, in office spaces and conference rooms every day - should we build a full-blown native mobile app, or is distributing over the web good enough?

By now everyone knows the “mobile-first” mentality because statistics like 50% of web searches being done from a mobile device, consumers spending more than 5 hours a day on their smartphones, and almost 60% of all Internet traffic being done from a mobile device are hard to ignore.

Sp picking a platform for your app isn’t really as hard as it sounds because unless you have a good reason not to, you should be using as many distribution channels as you can to help with traction.

We recently caught up with Abs Girdhar, CEO of Appy Pie to get his thoughts on the debate - along with some other tips on designing interfaces, and an outlook on mobile for the coming years.

ADM: What is the difference between a native mobile app design and responsive web design? Why do we need both?

Girdhar: A native app is designed to run on a specific mobile operating system. It won’t run on other mobile operating systems. The biggest advantages to native apps are that they can access all the functionality of the chosen device and are more likely to run smoothly.

A responsive website can deliver similar functionality to an app, and with a little creativity, the differences can be minimized. Responsive websites are developed using HTML 5 and JavaScript. 
The decision to develop a mobile app, responsive website or both should be driven by compelling business needs not “because everyone else is doing it.” 

Ask yourself:

  • What do my mobile customers need to do that they can’t do on the regular website?
  • What features of the mobile platform can I take advantage of that would improve the user experience?
  • What’s my expected cost savings or return on investment with either approach?

Of course, to really ensure all bases are covered, you can do both responsive web and mobile app. As an example, consider the strategy of any large bank. Most bank websites enable users to check their balances, pay bills, and transfer funds on their regular websites. The same functionality is also offered on their mobile-friendly websites, which implement a completely different user experience. But these banks also offer mobile apps, which include not only all the website functionality but additional neat mobile-only features such as depositing a check by taking a photo of it.

ADM: What is the best way to improve user experience without completely changing the app interface?


  1. Focusing on “Usable Architecture”
  2. Removing Unvalidated Features
  3. Including a smooth Onboarding Experience
  4. Offering Customer Support
  5. Taking a Consultative Approach
  6. Periodic Testing and Monitoring
  7. Integrating Social Media
  8. Using Customer Surveys

ADM: For users with little to no coding experience, what are some best practices to follow when designing an app?

Girdhar: Some of the best practices that users with little to no coding experience can follow to design their apps include:

  1. Build Apps for Bigger Screens
  2. Take Personalization Several Notches Up
  3. Keep Your UI Simple
  4. Make Your App Voice Enabled
  5. Offer Multiple & Innovative Navigation Options Within the App
  6. Let Your App Users Go Cashless
  7. Give Way to Fresh Color Palettes
  8. Make Smart Use Of Scalable Typography
  9. Offer An Emotional Experience Through Your App
  10. Offer an Augmented Reality App Experience
  11. Brand Storytelling
  12. Video Content Takes the Crown
  13. Simplify the User Journey
  14. Let Users Experience the Full-Screen Effect
  15. Swiping Rules the Roost Among Gestures

ADM: Push notifications are quite popular in apps today. Why are they so important?


  • Stimulates user engagement
  • Re-engages/retains users
  • Increases conversion rates
  • Targets the right users
  • Tracks actionable metrics
  • Enhances brand consistency
  • Reduces efforts in the customer journey

ADM: Tell me about a few things that mobile applications are currently lacking. How can the industry go about improving and innovating?

Girdhar: List hereunder are the most common mobile application pitfalls:

  • Bad data storage practices
  • Malware
  • Unauthorized access
  • Lack of encryption
  • Data leaks from syncing

Ways industries can avoid these pitfalls include –

  • Secure app’s code from the ground up
  • Develop Mobile Security Standards - And Apply Them
  • Secure network connections on the back end
  • Perform Design/Architecture Reviews with Threat Modeling
  • Put identification, authentication, and authorization measures in place
  • Be careful about the security of customer data and implement a good mobile encryption policy
  • Have a solid API security strategy in place
  • Test your app software—then test again

ADM: Apple’s most recent event shed light on the tech giant’s new technology features in its phones and watches. How will its new technology affect mobile applications and what they can accomplish?

Girdhar: Apple announced three new iPhones and improved health features for its watches during its recent event. You would be forgiven for not paying too much attention to the handsets - after all, the tech giant launches new devices every year and the tweaks this year were not dramatic. However, the new iOS sure is!

The iOS 12 comes with time management and digital wellness features that can help users monitor the time they spend on their smartphones, in a bid to tackle tech addiction. 

It also features a new Measure app, which uses augmented reality to measure from point-to-point, and ARKit 2 with real-time multi-users experience. 

Apple has also enhanced the capabilities of its voice assistant, Siri. With new Siri shortcuts, you can easily create multi-step customizable workflows that can use first-party apps, third-party apps, and Apple services and settings, which ultimately leads to a huge number of possibilities for tasks that can be streamlined and simplified. 

If that’s not enough, Apple also brings the brand new design to the app store in general and also new app product pages, in-app payments, and functionality.

With these new technologies, such as Siri shortcuts and ARKit 2.0, we can expect to see some great apps in the future coming to App Stores that showcases augmented reality, artificial intelligence, and greatly advanced capabilities.
On the other hand, with Apple’s strong focus on wearables, it’ll be great to see whether the wearable apps dominate the app market in the future or not.

ADM: How can VR and AR change mobile app development for the better?

Girdhar: In the last two years, VR/AR has gathered the attention of both investors as well as entrepreneurs. These two mini-giants have the incredible potential to impact how people work, learn, play, exercise, communicate, transact, socialize, and consume content. 

With the launch of VR and AR, it is believed that by 2026 the way mobile apps & games work will also change. It is noticed that people are shifting from the computer to these two mini-giants which will definitely show some advancement in trading, booking of tickets, mind-games, watching, etc. As technology is shifting to an entirely new era of the 4D world, we believe that the big names in the Mobile App development will also change to adapt to and include AR/VR functionality.

The following are some of the ways in which the advent of AR/VR make a difference to the mobile apps of the future

  • Improved Learning Experience
  • Enhances Business Efficiency
  • Unbeatable Virtual Experience
  • Improved User Engagement
  • Enhanced Brand Loyalty
  • Mobility
  • Enhanced Mode of Communication

ADM: How do you see mobile app development advancing in the next five years?

Girdhar: Mobile application development is driven by advancements in technology which requires businesses to have a vision for the next few years. Below are some of the trends which will determine the future of mobile application development.

  1. Artificial Intelligence
  2. Internet of Things and Mobile-connected Smart Objects
  3. Augmented Reality
  4. Chatbots
  5. Instant Apps
  6. Wearable devices
  7. Motion and Location Sensing
  8. Innovative Mobile User Experience Design

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