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What Is a Web-based Mobile App?

When a mobile web app can be a preferable option

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While the popularity of mobile devices and their use are still growing, the same can be said about the demand for mobile applications. From the perspective of users, we know that today there are applications for practically everything. However, the apps are different not only based on their goals and functionality, but they also differ by the tools that were used for their creation. The most general technical classification tells us that there are native, cross-platform, hybrid, and web based mobile apps. In this article, we are going to provide you with a closer look at the latter category and explain when this type can be a preferable option.

Web-based app: general information

The first thing that we need to do to get familiarized with apps of this type is to find the answer to the question: “What is a web based app?” Today the majority of such products can be also referred to as progressive web applications (PWAs), which are more advanced than the first web apps used to be.

Modern mobile web apps are usually built with the use of such languages as JavaScript and HTML5. One of the products that may help you to develop web apps is an integrated development environment RAD Studio owned by Embarcadero. If you are interested in using this IDE for building your apps, we offer you to read another Softacom article to get more details.

Though, unlike Android and iOS mobile development, for web based mobile apps there are no SDKs, there are other options available. For example, for a quick start, it is possible to use relevant frameworks and templates, like React, Angular, and Vue.js.

This category of apps unites software that runs not on the operating system of the devices but on a web server. In this case, the interaction between users and a remote server is conducted via a web browser.

Thanks to this peculiarity, these applications can be accessed from any device that has a web browser. However, that is not the only benefit that you may get if you opt for an app of this type.

Mobile web app development: pros and cons

Based on our experience we can say that the demand for web mobile applications is rising these days. And the reason for it, as we see, is the wide range of benefits and possibilities that this type of software can bring to both: users and product owners.

Advantages of web based apps:

  • You do not need to invest in the development of apps for each operating system. A web-based app is able to adapt to any device.
  • There is no need to install any specific browser. Regardless of a web browser, a user can access such an app.
  • All users have access to the same version of the software without any necessity to update their apps manually. It helps to make the user experience even more seamless.
  • A web based application can be easily found in traditional search systems like Google. As users do not have to download them, they are not presented in app stores. To find a web based app you need just to google its name.
  • Developers and owners of such apps have a lot of freedom in choosing, for example, what content to offer and what advertising to post. This comparative freedom is available as in this case, you do not need to follow the rules set by app stores.

All these benefits make web-based technology a good option for apps that are intended for both corporate and everyday use. Quite often the following types of products are built as a web based phone app:

  • online payment systems;
  • interactive internet portals;
  • systems for booking tickets, hotels, etc.

Are there any disadvantages of mobile web app development? Definitely yes. Just as in any other case when we are talking about some kinds of software products or technologies.

So, the disadvantages of such applications are:

  • dependency on the internet connection and its speed;
  • time-consuming development process;
  • lack of access to some functionality of a native device (like camera, calendar, geolocation, and others;
  • no possibility to send push notifications offline.

Mobile native apps and web based apps: Top differences

To help you get a more comprehensive answer to the question “What are web based applications?”, let us share a list of the main differences between the two types of solutions mentioned above.

  • Mobile apps run only on mobile platforms. Web based apps can be accessed from any device via a browser.
  • Mobile applications should be downloaded from app stores and then installed on a smartphone. With mobile web apps, there are no such requirements.
  • Mobile apps (at least some of their features) can be accessed offline, however, for working with web-based software, an internet connection is a must.
  • To publish a mobile app on an app store, you need to get approval from the platform. With web-based products, you do not need to interact with any app stores.
  • Usually, mobile applications should be updated manually. For web apps, the participation of users in this process is not required.

Mobile web app development process

The process of creating apps of this type doesn’t seriously differ from the process of building any other software solutions. Typically, it includes a row of important steps.


First of all, you need to think about the concept of your future product. What tasks and functions will it have? Who and how will use it? These questions will help you choose the best development approach for building your solution. If you have already decided to create a web based app, these questions will help you make sure that it was the right choice.


Together with your development team, you need to discuss the functionality and tech stack for your product. Moreover, at this stage, it is necessary to prepare a plan and set deadlines.

Wireframing and prototypes

Wireframes will help to see how the content will be placed and displayed on the page while prototypes are useful for testing interfaces and interactions with your product.

Design and development

At this step, designers will be working on the creation of interfaces for your web based app while developers will be building its functionality in accordance with your requirements.

Testing and launch

Though quite often tests are conducted in parallel with development to fix bugs as soon as possible when your web based application is ready, you need to test it once again. It is vital to check whether everything functions as it is supposed to.  When you are satisfied with the results, the product can be launched. But do not forget, that after its release, it should be supported and maintained on a regular base.

5 mobile web apps: Examples

The best way to understand what apps of this kind can offer you is to try using them at least with a view to feeling their functionality.

  • Financial Times. FT was the first large news organization in the world that launched a web app with a native-like user experience. Initially, it was optimized for iOS devices but later the developers made the application fully available for owners of other mobile devices,
  • Forbes. Some years later Forbes.com also launched its PWA to offer a mobile web experience with app-like navigation, faster load times, and content that looks and feels similar to Snapchat stories.
  • Starbucks. It’s probably one of the most well-known progressive web applications. It was built with one of the main concepts of web-based apps in mind – “offine-first”. The main idea behind the app was to provide users with the possibility of looking through the menu, customizing orders, and adding items to a cart even without an internet connection.
  • AliExpess. A lot of online shoppers still remember the times when the AliExpress website tried to convince them to download a mobile app. However, not so many non-app users wanted to be converted into app users. Later, the company took a decision to build a Progressive Web App. And it turned out to be a very feasible decision as a mobile web app managed to significantly enhance the user experience and engagement.
  • Twitter. Though the Twitter native mobile app boasts high popularity, Twitter Lite which is a PWA offered by the company is widely used as well. The web app was created by Twitter to ensure an excellent experience even for those users who are located in areas with poor and slow internet connection.

When is it feasible to launch a web based mobile application?

To help you understand whether you should opt for a web mobile app, we’ve prepared a small questionnaire for you with yes/no questions.

  • Do you want to have a single technology for web and mobile platforms and as a result to have the possibility to reduce development costs?
  • Do you want to make your app available even to those users who are located in areas with a poor internet connection?
  • Do you want to ensure a native look and feel on every device regardless of its operating system?
  • Do you want to deliver your app to users without the necessity to interact with an app store middleman?
  • Do you want to ensure the best experience for our users and minimize the efforts needed from their side to interact with your product?

Have you answered “yes” to all these questions? Great! It means that it’s high time for you to consider all the pluses and minuses of web based mobile apps. In case you discover that the pluses are much weightier for you, we recommend you proceed further with your idea of an app and turn it into life.

If you want to build a mobile web based app or to find out what benefits it can bring to your business, at Softacom we will be always happy to help you. Moreover, if you already have a solution that has become obsolete, do not hurry up to replace it with a new one. Software modernization services may turn out to be a good option for you.

Contact our team and our seasoned specialists will process your request and provide you with all the necessary information.

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