Mobile Web Applications and Native Mobile Apps: What’s the Difference?

The world has gone mobile. Nearly 16 billion mobile devices are in operation today. Well over one-half of all web traffic is now conducted from a mobile device. And in the workplace, 62% of users say mobile devices play a key role in helping them be productive, while 36% report their use of mobile devices at work has increased in the past year.

These trends have big implications for how your employees access the applications they need to do their jobs. The more your workers rely on smartphones and tablets, the more they need mobile access to your organization’s business-enabling software.

But does that mean you should migrate your applications to mobile apps? Or is there another way your users can access productivity software on their mobile devices? Knowing the answer can help your organization gain the most benefit from the mobile-device juggernaut.

The Defining Qualities of Mobile Applications

Before identifying the mobile strategy that’s right for your organization, it’s important to understand the difference between a native mobile app and a mobile web application.

A native mobile app is a program designed exclusively to run on a mobile device like a smartphone or tablet. It’s called “native” because it’s coded specifically for a particular mobile operating system (OS) such as Apple iOS or Google Android. These are the familiar consumer apps that you can download from an app store and that are used for everything from gaming to chatting to fitness.

Native mobile apps are popular because they offer specialized functionality in a self-contained format. But for business purposes, they have limitations. For starters, they don’t necessarily dovetail with other applications and processes in your enterprise.

But there’s a bigger issue when it comes to the custom applications you need to run your operations. Native mobile apps must be individually coded for different mobile platforms. So, you need to either limit your users to a specific mobile operating system – or spend the time and resources to have your development team essentially create separate apps for each mobile OS.

A mobile web application, in contrast, is an application that requires only a web browser to be installed on a mobile device. Mobile web applications are typically built with popular technologies such as CSS, HTML5 and JavaScript, so they don’t need to be coded specifically for each device’s OS.

Mobile web applications are well-suited for business use. They enable your employees to use the mobile devices they already have to quickly and easily access the business functionality they need to do their jobs – whenever and wherever they need it. And there’s no need to create multiple versions for multiple mobile platforms.

No-Code Tools for Mobile Web Applications

In the past, organizations relied on their application development teams to design and create their mobile web applications. Today, your organization can take advantage of a no-code app builder to allow nontechnical teams to quickly and easily create applications for use on their mobile devices.

These citizen developers leverage a no-code software development tool to create, deploy and continually improve applications. When using a no-code tool, the organization benefits from insights and innovation already embedded in the workforce. In fact, Gartner says “the future of apps must include citizen development” and reports that 61% of companies are implementing or have plans for this approach.

How does it work? Customizable templates make building mobile web applications fast and easy. A drag-and-drop visual designer lets users simply select design objects for the application and drag them to a canvas. Behind the scenes, the tool automatically creates the application code. Departments from HR to finance to sales and service can digitize and automate workflows and processes for higher productivity and more effective customer service.

A no-code tool can also allow professional development teams to work more efficiently and cost-effectively. Developers can use no-code to speedily create robust, secure interfaces, forms and workflows that underlie mobile web applications. That way, they can focus on the more complex aspects of digitizing end-to-end processes.

Organizations across a wide range of industries – from energy to healthcare to higher education – are embracing no-code app builders to deploy the mobile web applications they need. By speeding up customized, business-enabling functionality to every employee’s mobile device, they can automate workflows, empower workers, save money and serve customers better.