What Are Web and Mobile Applications?

By Nikhil Abraham

Web applications are websites you visit using a web browser on any device. Websites optimized for use on a mobile device, like a phone or tablet, are called mobile web applications. By contrast, native mobile applications cannot be viewed using a web browser.

Instead, native mobile applications are downloaded from an app store like the Apple App Store or Google Play, and designed to run on a specific device such as an iPhone or an Android tablet. Historically, desktop computers outnumbered and outsold mobile devices, but recently two major trends in mobile usage have occurred:

  • In 2014, people with mobile devices outnumbered people with desktop computers. This gap is projected to continue increasing, as shown.

  • Mobile-device users spend 80 percent of their time using native mobile applications, and 20 percent of their time browsing mobile websites.

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The increase in mobile devices has happened so quickly over the last 10 years that many companies are becoming “mobile first,” designing and developing the mobile version of their applications before the desktop version. WhatsApp and Instagram, two popular mobile applications, first built mobile applications, which continue to have more functionality then their regular websites.