What Is a Web-based Mobile App?

What Is a Web-based Mobile App?

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 application?” 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 web mobile 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 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.

Web-based mobile apps: 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 in a wide range of benefits and possibilities that this type of software can bring to both: users and product owners.

Advantages of web-based applications:

  1. You do not need to invest in the development of apps for each operating system. A web application is able to adapt to any device.
  2. There is no need to install any specific browser. Regardless of a web browser, a user can access such an app.
  3. 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.
  4. Web-based apps 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 app you need just to google its name.
  5. 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 web-based mobile applications:

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

Are there any disadvantages of web-based mobile apps? 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:

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

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5 web-based app: 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.

  1. 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,
  2. 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.
  3. 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, adding items to a cart even without an internet connection.
  4. 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.
  5. 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 to those users who are located in areas with a poor and slow internet connection.

When is it feasible to launch a web-based mobile app?

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

  • Do you want to have 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 a necessity to interact with an app store middle man?
  • 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 apps. In case you discover that the pluses are much weightier for you, we recommend you to proceed further with your idea of an app and turn it into life.

If you want to build a web-based mobile app or to find out what benefits it can bring to your business, at Softacom we will be always happy to help you.

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