Mobile phones continue to gain market share. People use them more and more to do tasks they once sat at the computer to accomplish. Not too many years ago nobody would try and book a flight on their phone. Now this type of activity is common. The rise of apps caused part of this shift.
We cannot forget desktop users, however. For many, the desktop is still the preferred way to work and shop. If your company wants to build a new app, you will still need a website to promote it. You will need content optimized for search engines. Websites help educate and convert new users and build the brand. Let’s take a closer look at both app development and web development.
What is the difference between app development and web development?
App development means creating an application for download to a smartphone or tablet device. The development team creates an app in code for a specific platform. Apple's iOS and Android currently hold the most market share. Users download apps from an app store. The apps have access to system resources like GPS and the camera, if the user opts in. Instagram, Google Maps, Words with Friends, and Uber are all apps.
Learn more in our web app development guide.
Mobile app development costs more than web development. Software development teams must code their app for each platform (iOS or Android) from scratch. App developers create apps for iOS using Objective-C or Swift. For Android, they use Android Studio or Eclipse IDE. Google and Apple have released Software Development Kits (SDKs) to help developers. SDKs include reusable elements like libraries and code samples.
Learn more on what are the best languages to develop an app in 2022.
Web developers have different tools. They use code editing programs like Adobe Dreamweaver. They have access to a wide variety of templates and standards. Web apps take less time to build. They usually cost much less to create than mobile apps.
You might be also interested in: Outsource web development in 2021 and beyond: benefits & tips
Pros and cons of mobile applications
Faster than web apps
Work without an internet connection
More expensive than web apps
More time-to-market as developers code for both iOS and Android
Maintenance and updates prove costly
Privacy concerns (App Stores keep a record of downloads)
Must get approval from Apple or Google to get into the app stores
Pros and cons of web applications
No download or installation required
Faster time-to-market, faster to create
No store approval required
Maintenance costs less than mobile apps
Fewer features than a mobile app
Slower than mobile app
Won’t function offline
A third way: Progressive web apps
Progressive web apps (PWAs) fall somewhere in the middle of a mobile app and web app. They have more functionality than a typical web app. Because of developments in browser caching, users can access a progressive web app while offline. From a UX standpoint, Progressive apps behave more like a mobile app. The API connectivity proves a bit limited compared to mobile apps. Progressive web apps, like standard web apps, don’t require installation or approval from Apple or Google. Progressive web apps offer the best of both worlds: flexibility, ease-of-use and speed. They don’t have features like push notifications. Progressive web apps also have to perform within the constraints of the browser. Companies that have used progressive web apps have reported better engagement numbers than with a standard responsive website.
Which is better app development or web development?
Mobile app development requires platform-specific coding. Developers use Integrated Development Environments (IDEs) to code their apps. They must code their apps for both Android and Apple if they want to have a large audience of users.
The number of app downloads has steadily increased. According to Statista, users downloaded 208 billion apps in 2020. In 2016, they downloaded 140 billion apps. The revenue generated by apps also shows steady growth. By 2023, Statista estimates apps will generate over $935 in revenue.
All this means that companies seeking to increase their customer base must choose a hybrid approach. They cannot create just a web app or a mobile app. Rather, they should seek to meet their users wherever they might connect from. Users connecting from a mobile device will appreciate a dedicated mobile app. Users spend 90% of their time on mobile using apps. Desktop computers still hold an important place, however. In the end, the question should not boil down to web or mobile. In most cases, businesses need to anticipate all sorts of engagement. They need to be ready for desktop, mobile, tablet and future states.
Seeking project ideas for your business? Check out the 16 Web application ideas article.
Web and app development with Blocshop
Here at Blocshop, we know app development, both for web apps and mobile apps. Our experts create responsive web apps that scale to desktop and mobile devices. Our teams harness the power of Agile. We have mastered the project budgeting process and help our customers reduce costs up to 30%. Read more about the process that we’ll use to estimate the cost of your software development project and reach out for custom cost calculation in case you already have a project idea in mind.
Check out our recent case study on app development for Fairphone, a company that designs, develops and produces smartphones with a lower environmental impact.