Is there any difference between a mobile app, and a mobile website?

There is a difference between a mobile application and a mobile website.  A mobile application has to be built for a particular platform, for example, it can be built for the iPhone, or it can be built for an Android platform.  Whereas a mobile website can actually be viewed over both platforms, simply because it is already uploaded to the Internet and accessed via a web browser.

It is important to understand the two clearly.  An “App” is written in the programming language of a specific mobile platform such as IOS, Android, or BlackBerry.  The advantages of this are that by using the same native code as the Operating System, the application operates unhindered and therefore gives the user a high performance level.  Provided libraries will also make it easy to enhance user experience with less effort.

The app can work offline and can be easily launched in one step.  The said “app” will be available in the “App Store”.  There are some disadvantages, such as, due to it being in native code, it will only work on one platform.  Development skills must be learned in order to use only one particular platform, in addition an app cannot be sourced directly over the Internet; usually a payment has to be made in order for it to be downloaded. But apps can be issued free of charge to users.

A mobile website is an Internet website that has been prepared with the express possibility of being able to be browsed via a mobile phone.  These kinds of websites can be accessed directly from the web browser on the mobile phone. Full browser websites can also be loaded on a mobile device but often times they are harder to operate on a mobile phone. Features like flash will also not work on all platforms.

Using a mobile website as opposed to an app has immense potential.  To start, one mobile site will be able to be accessed by any mobile platform, whether it is iPhone or Android.

It actually works out to be cheaper and less time consuming to create a mobile website; altering the original version of an actual website to suit a mobile browser is by far more economically sensible.  Not only will the same website be seen on both platforms, but it will be easily recognizable if seen in the original style as the main website.  A particularly interesting aspect of mobile websites is that the website can come up onto a mobile phone through a Google search.  Because it is a website, it can actually be updated using a CMS.

There are a few disadvantages of having a mobile website.  Because the website is not in native code, there is the possibility that it will not perform as desired.  Some of the phone’s features may not be available to the website, as they are on apps, for example, the camera.  It is cumbersome for potential customers to be able to bookmark the website.  It is difficult to structure payment for access or usage of material on the mobile website.

Mobile websites will offer more for the money paid; certain applications are also available that will close the gap between various platforms allowing more websites to work effectively irrespective of the platform used.  Another advantage of mobile websites is that the website will remain on the Internet, even if respective platforms fade away in time.