There are a lot frameworks on the market who wrap actual websites into mobileapps. I found myself thinking about the question - why is it needed to create mobileapps if it's possible to just having mobile version of the site?

  • "wrap actual websites into mobileapps" Do you mean just putting webbrowser into app that opens specific website? Or do you mean creating UI from scratch?
    – Euphoric
    May 25, 2014 at 16:07
  • It doesn't have to be all or nothing - signalvnoise.com/posts/…
    – AD7six
    May 25, 2014 at 19:23
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    – gnat
    May 25, 2014 at 21:03

4 Answers 4


Those frameworks offer additional features, most relating to the hardware of the smartphones. Those include:

  • accessing and manipulating hardware functions such as cameras, flashlight, screen brightness, gyroscope, vibration...
  • software access, for example contacts, calendar, phone number, mails, HWID...
  • running in the background, receiving (push) notifications
  • cookie-independent clientside storage

Still you often have a meaningless notion of "we need an App for that stuff, Apps are what the cool kids have nowadays" in the management - or an independent contractor who uses this notion to make a few thousand bucks more out of pushing his already finished work through PhoneGap.

  • 1
    So my question is really about the last part of your answer. Why it's "cool" to have an app, instead of having websites? For example, for computers it's looks like opposite. Cool to have website instead of application
    – Ph0en1x
    May 25, 2014 at 15:47
  • From a nontech POV: Apps have a modern vibe to it, they are constantly all over the media and are supposedly the next big thing. Since for iPhones the Appstore is centralized, official and the only way to install apps, many people will regard having an App on the App Store as a sign of respectability. From my experience, it's mostly the client comparing himself to the big players and saying "They have an App, I need that too!".
    – René Roth
    May 25, 2014 at 15:50
  • 1
    By contrast, there's now a bit of a push back from users jaded by being forced/pestered to install an app that offers nothing you can't do with a (existing) mobile web interface.
    – AD7six
    May 25, 2014 at 19:18

There are many reasons why making an app has advantages. René said some. The ones I would like to add are : Native feel, touch UI optimizations and better UI frameworks.

Existing web pages are not optimized to use on small, touch screens. Also, web technologies make it harder to optimize them for touch. So if you are going to invest into making the website accessible from touch device, you can just as well invest into making an app and have website optimized just for desktop.

With this comes native feel of application. For user, it is much better if the application he uses feels and is used same way as everything else in his ecosystem. Something like that is impossible for webpage, but almost guaranteed for custom mobile app. And while it is possible to optimize the UI for specific mobile platform, I cannot even begin to describe how stupid it is to see iOS-like UI webpage on my Windows Phone.

The third one might be just my opinion, but from my perspective HTML+CSS+JS are worse than terrible for application UI. Thanks to it's heritage of hacks and committee-based design and fact it is meant for documents, not applications it is extra hard to create design that doesn't break at simplest thing, like different DPI display. Something that is quite common in mobile world. All major mobile platforms have UI frameworks that are many times better than anything you can achieve with HTML+CSS+JS. Or at least make things easier.

  • Apps do not solve the compatibility issues; instead, they limit your target audience even more and lock out visitors/customers with low incentive. The guidelines for the Apple App Store explicitly outline that it is always preferred to use a "mobile app" (aka website) whenever they can serve the same purpose of a native app. If one is unable to cope with different DPIs in web design, they probably don't belong in that field of work. Web apps have come a long way, they don't need to hide from native apps.
    – René Roth
    May 25, 2014 at 19:14
  • >"mobile app" (aka website) What? I'm pretty sure they mean "mobile app" as normal iOS app. Not as website. It would be detrimental to their business if they advised to use webpages. And how does making native app limit the target audience? And it is not that it is not possible to cope with different DPI. It is just cheaper and faster to do it in native app than in website, that is trying to work on all platforms.
    – Euphoric
    May 25, 2014 at 19:27
  • Have you ever published an iOS app? Most of the times they won't even approve any app whose functionality could be replicated by a web app, and they tell you so straight. It limits the target audience since not everyone who visits your page is willing and/or able to download an App - basically locking out a huge number of users.
    – René Roth
    May 25, 2014 at 19:37
  • @RenéRoth Well. The point is that you have much more power with native app than with web app. Even simplest web app can have quite complex native app. Because native gives you tools web doesn't simply have. And why would someone not be willing or able to download an app if it is free? Assuming you price it same as web.
    – Euphoric
    May 25, 2014 at 19:44
  • Yes, I outlined the feature differences between web and native - you're running in an even more restricted sandbox with a web app, that is true. But in this context we're talking strictly about cases where the full functionality can be achieved web only. There are several casses where a user is unable to download an App: Using someone else's device, restricted business phone, parental lock... and many people simply refuse to download and install another app because of reasons like privacy, memory space, lazyness...
    – René Roth
    May 25, 2014 at 20:04

Using mobile apps you can access native APIs to control the device. For example "what is the buttery status?", to do it from a web site someone should write an API for you first. If you have the native app, all the APIs ready once the SDK released on the platform.

There are also hybrid apps, that are between websites and mobile apps, so you'll have an access to device features, such as PhoneGap.


It is mostly because they need different GUI solutions, check for example windows 8 metro style, which is optimized for touchscreen (big buttons, etc...) and compare it with windows 7 which was designed for personal computer usage...

Mobile devices have different browsers, so it may happen, that they don't support a javascript or css feature you are using.

Mobile devices may have weak processors (because they should work with low energy consumption, because the energy density of the current accumulators is too low), so they cannot display for example a long list fast enough, while for personal computers it is usually not a problem. (By expensive devices this is no longer a problem nowadays.)

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