Recently I had a rather animated discussion with another designer about the pros and cons of web based mobile apps as opposed to native apps. Both have their good points and both have things that work against them. I think it’s a matter of perception from the EU’s point of view.
My opinion has been that you needed both a mobile website and an app. While I was seeing things from this perspective I was not very familiar with web based apps. I’d heard of them but hadn’t done any research to see how they could be or were being used. The last few months have been very enlightening. It’s amazing how information is suddenly right there in front of you when you know what you’re looking for. Well, long story, short version: I gained an understanding of mobile web apps and began to appreciate how they could make my life less stressful. I design apps as marketing tools for businesses. The App Store doesn’t like marketing apps and they don’t want anything that has marketing in the title or is from a marketing company. Since the App Store isn’t a search engine and the search engines don’t crawl the apps, just how important is it to have an app in the App Store. Yeah, I know, prestige and exclusivity. Apple is currently paying for that with a sudden drop in figures. My priority is getting that app on my customer’s iPhone or iPad, in addition to the Android devices.
Let me put it this way, if a web based mobile app can function and look the same as a native app on a touch enabled device, I’m willing to give it consideration. and a test run.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with mobile web apps, they’re mobile websites that can be bookmarked (like websites) on Android phones with the site icon being saved to your home screen; much like the icon for a native app, and used in the same manner to pull up the app. iPhone users can touch the icon and save it to their home screen to be used as an app icon. The requirement of being online before you can use the mobile web app is the biggest difference between the two types of app. It’s definitely worth thinking about.
Compare native apps, mobile websites and mobile web apps.