Web App vs. Downloadable App: Compatibility

While downloadable apps for phones and tablet are all the rage, there are still plenty of reasons why a web application may be more suitable for the functionality you want to provide.  Through a number of posts, we’re going to compare and contrast the benefits of each to help you determine which solution is the right solution for your needs.  Today, we’re going to focus on the issue of compatibility.

Web Applications
With a web app, you immediately have access to have your application work on a variety of platforms, regardless of the users operating system (OS).  Web apps can be built to perform well on full browsers and mobile browsers alike – regardless of the users’ OS.    While there may need to be some coding adjustments to ensure compatibility across different browsers, these adjustments are typically performed by adjusting (or creating additional) stylesheets, not by rewriting the functionality of the application to accomodate the different browsers.  In addition, developers have the flexibility of selecting from a number of different programming languages to developer their application (php, asp.net, etc).

Downloadable Apps
Downloadable apps are highly dependent on OS and need to be written in different languages for different platforms.  For example, an application developed for an iPhone / iPad would have to be recreated in a different language to work on a Droid phone.  For example, iPad / iPhone apps are written in objective-C and Droid apps are written in Java.  While some developers may be able to do both, there are many cases where 2 different developers (even if they are within the same firm) work on the different version of the app to accomodate the different language requirements. 

While it’s important to consider all of the issues we’ll dive into to compare and contrast, when looking soley at the issue of compatibility, web applications come out ahead by providing greater compatibility, with much less work.  Stay tuned to learn about the pros and cons of other areas of consideration for web apps vs. downloadable apps.

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