Web Design Resources

Web Design Resources

Native Mobile Applications Vs. Mobile Web Applications

Native mobile applications and mobile web applications - what is the difference?
Clients often get confused between native mobile applications and mobile web applications. In this article, we explain these terms and briefly discuss their merits and demerits. 

First, the definitions...

Native Mobile Applications
Native mobile applications are programs that reside on the mobile device of the end user. Typically, they are purchased / downloaded from an online website / store, and their code is stored on the mobile device itself. One of the best examples of such a native app is the 'Angry Birds' game.

Mobile Web Applications
Mobile web applications simply use the mobile device's browser to access the application. In other words, it simply is a web application, tailored for the small screen of a mobile device. Since it is deployed over the Internet, you do not need to install anything - all the data processing is done at the server side.

Hybrid Applications
There is yet another category - hybrid applications. Hybrid apps run inside a container on the device, and use the mobile device's browser engine (but not the browser) to render pages. They run the HTML protocol and process the JavaScript locally. They also have a layer that allows them to access the hardware (contacts, camera, GPS, etc.) 

So, which mobile development is suitable for you?
There are no easy answers to this question. With a native application, you need to consider the OS (Android, Windows, iOS, Symbian) of the device. Native apps are built for a specific platform, typically using the tools provided by the OS vendor. Secondly, they are costlier to develop as compared to mobile web apps.
Mobile web applications are platform independent, but always need Internet to access data. They can access only a limited amount of the device's inbuilt hardware and features (media, geolocation, etc.). Mobile web applications are however OS independent.

Hybrid apps require a toolkit to be developed and are a bit heavy compared to mobile web apps. If all the other things are same, a native app will always be the fastest, but most complex to code when compared to a mobile web or a hybrid app,