What Is A Web App? Definition And Web App Examples
Web App(s) have found their way into everyday digital life primarily via smartphones and tablets. They are not only offered for mobile devices but also desktop computers. These native apps are application software that is adapted to a specific platform. On the other hand, Web apps run in the respective web browser and differ in some respects from native apps.
Web App: Definition
The spectrum of web applications is large: it ranges from small tools and web app offshoots of well-known programs (such as instant messaging services or office packages) to graphics software or browser games. Many programs and services go two ways: They are offered both as web applications and in the form of a native app.
Web App Vs Native (Mobile) App
The main differences between a web app and a classic native app are programming.
Native apps are specially programmed for a target platform and installed on it. This can be a mobile operating system such as Android or iOS and a desktop operating system such as Windows. The app market is dominated by applications for mobile devices, the so-called native mobile apps (or simply mobile apps ).
All native apps have in common that they were developed for a specific platform and only work on it. For example, an Android app does not run on an iPhone or iPad’s Apple iOS operating system. This platform dependency has its advantages and disadvantages: If developers want to use several operating systems, they have to program their app for each one – which means a lot more work than developing a web app. For this, native apps can be ideally adapted to the respective platform. They can also use the storage space of the device they are using. In contrast to web apps, native apps are more suitable for complex applications.
Web applications can be adjusted less well to the device’s hardware, but they work on all operating systems and devices that have a web browser supported by the web app (as a rule, these are all current browsers). Ideally, a single app is enough to cover all platforms. However, optimizing the application for all browsers is not always possible.
Another plus point is closing security gaps: With native apps, these can only be fixed by downloading a new version or an update. A security update of a web application, on the other hand, is implemented directly in the software so that all users automatically access the most secure version. In addition, web apps are often cheaper and faster to produce.
Differences Between Web Apps And Websites
Web applications can be clearly distinguished from native apps, but how do web applications differ from ordinary websites? Here it is not always possible to clearly distinguish one from another, as some examples of well-known web apps show.
Web Apps: Examples
Various Google services such as Google Maps, Gmail, or the Google search engine fall into web applications. Also, the Internet offers from Amazon (in addition to the online shop, services such as Amazon Video or Amazon Music) and eBay(both the online auction portal and the classified ad service) are among them. These few examples already show that the boundary between a conventional website and a web application is often blurred. The difference becomes clearer through the example of Microsoft Office Online (formerly “Office Web Apps”). The web application offers the programs of the Microsoft Office package (Word, Excel, Outlook, etc.) for the browser. You can use it to create, edit and save various documents – just like with the installed version of the Office suite.
The connectivity with the web is a special feature: While web apps initially required an internet connection, they can now also temporarily store data on the device. Because using HTML5, web applications can also be run offline. However, a small number of web apps have this function to date.
Web Apps And Websites: Properties
Concrete distinguishing features between web apps and traditional websites can be found above all about the functionality of an online offer. In general, web apps provide certain services. In the case of Google web applications, this is, for example, the use of a search engine, webmail, or map service. Some offers from Amazon can be identified as web apps due to their online shop functions or video-on-demand services.
Websites, on the other hand, are mostly informative. They are more static – in contrast to web apps, which always contain action-oriented, interactive elements. Due to their uncomplicated, platform-independent use and the fact that they do not need to be installed, web apps will play a decisive role in shaping the future of the Internet.
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