Differentiating Between NFC Web and Mobile Apps - dummies

Differentiating Between NFC Web and Mobile Apps

By Robert R. Sabella

Near Field Communication (NFC) relies on apps to perform certain tasks. When working with a mobile device, you have a choice between web apps (which are really web pages that are launched by tapping an NFC tag or scanning a QR code) and mobile apps (which are applications that are downloaded onto the phone). What are the differences between the two?

A web app relies on the same browser-based interface that any other web application does, which means using HTML pages. The formatting of a mobile web app favors the small screens that mobile devices possess and makes it easier to move around using the functionality that a mobile device provides. However, for the most part, it’s still just a browser-based application. Web apps can support many phone features, including

  • Text content
  • Data
  • Images
  • Video
  • Click-to-call (to dial a phone number)
  • Location-based mapping

A mobile app is one that uses the native functionality of the mobile device. You download the app to your smartphone, just as you do any other mobile app on your device. Rather than use a browser, the mobile app has a custom interface that plays to the special features of the device that you’re using. As a result, a mobile app tends to execute faster and provide better functionality than a web app (making it a favored choice for games).

To gain these advantages, mobile apps tend to have reduced platform flexibility (you must create a version for each platform you want to support). Mobile apps favor tasks for which you have specific needs in mind, and a web app isn’t capable of delivering the required functionality. For example, you must use a mobile app when you want the app to work even without an Internet connection.

When choosing between a web app and a mobile app, you need to consider issues such as the audience you wish to serve. If you can’t adequately determine the devices your audience will use in advance, a web app has a definite appeal because it runs on any device that has a browser. A web app has these common advantages:

  • Compatibility: You can use web apps on any device that has a browser.
  • Ease of updates: You can update a web app instantly because you have the code stored on your server.
  • Ease of sharing: Two people can share a web app, even if they have different devices.
  • Sustainability: The costs associated with maintaining a web app are normally lower.