Ask The Expertmobile app development

Mobile App Software Development

Why should I build a mobile app versus a web app?

I get asked this question a lot by organizations that are looking to build a new application. Often, we’re approached for our mobile app software development because the requesting company wants to have a way for a person to work with the application on their phone. A mobile app feels like the logical place to start.  When placed in this conversation, I always start with this question first, as simple as it sounds: “Why do you want to have a mobile application instead of a web application?

The answers are typically around the idea that they want to be easily accessible to the user, and their phone is the primary device their users use to do their job.  “Great,” I say.  “Now why can’t they use a web application inside their phone’s browser?”  Answers are all over the board, but it usually comes down to the fact that when they think of using your phone, they think of an “app.”  Or maybe their competitor has an app, or they like the app that they use for another application and want one too.  “I see your point and I agree” is usually my response.

Mobile App Development vs. Web App Development

But, then I hit them with the bad news.  Mobile app software development is much more work to create and maintain in the long run.  Unlike web applications that are deployed on one server controlled by our team, mobile applications are deployed on each user’s phone, completely outside of our control.  Additionally, each phone is different.  Spread among Apple and Android devices alone, there’s numerous hardware and software combinations that need to be taken into account when developing and testing.  Then, as the new phone gets released, more testing and maintenance needs to be done over time.  It never ends, and it can be tough to predict what’s going to happen next.  Remember, the Apple App Store didn’t even exist until 2008.  That’s not that long ago.

Unlike mobile applications, web applications can generally be built on a standardized hardware and software platform making it much easier to maintain over time.  Changes in technology leave it up to the developer on whether they want to upgrade or support them, unlike mobile phone technology.  An upgrade to your application can be released to all users at the same time, whereas mobile app users need to upgrade the app to get new features.  Conflicting versions makes maintenance harder, yet again.  This can take you down a rabbit hole for maintaining your application that can often be avoided by using a web application.

Advantages of a Mobile Application

This doesn’t mean mobile applications shouldn’t be built.  It just means you should consider all of your options before making the decision to use mobile app software development.  There are things a mobile app can do much better than a web application.  For instance, opening a web application in a browser on your phone is not as convenient as having the app on your front page.  If your app primarily scans barcodes, web application aren’t going to be optimal. 

Here’s a list of some of the good reasons you might consider a mobile application over a web application.

  1. The app is easier access on the phone.
  2. The app needs to work without an Internet connection.
  3. The app relies heavily on a camera.
  4. The app uses location tracking or GPS functionality.
  5. The app requires hardware integration such as a credit card reader.

When to Build a Web Application

If none of the above are particularly relevant for your application, I recommend starting with a web application instead of a mobile application, especially when budget is a concern.  As you grow or prove the concept, a web application that is built with this in mind can easily transition into a mobile application later.  To do so, I recommend building an API-driven web application that can re-use your business logic built into the web application.  With this pattern, you are planning ahead and will have no issue eventually building out that mobile app too.

Custom Software Development Company

Want to learn more or talk about custom mobile app software development? Feel free to reach out to the CEO of Dorian Solutions at jziolo@doriansolutions.com.  

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