Mobile Browser vs. Native Apps

While many have said that native apps were the future, research suggests that mobile websites have already become the more dominant source for mobile information.

While apps were once requisite, it’s become increasingly apparent that they have become unnecessary for most of the functions required to facilitate using mobile devices. Native Apps began as a result of connection issues, which we no longer face thanks to our 4G and Wi-Fi-everywhere world.

Native (or Mobile) Apps are great for frequent tasks like communicating with friends and co-workers. For these necessary actions, dominant apps such as Facebook, Slack, and WhatsApp will clearly continue, even gain in popularity. The same however, cannot be said for smaller native apps.

While native apps are ideal for some things, we have found that they trail responsive websites for many other actions. In short, everything that the dominant native apps can’t give us, browsers can.

Apps like Facebook act as a hub for discovering social and general content based on our interests, which makes them incredibly valuable. Many Americans download zero apps per month, which means they use their must-have apps (Like Facebook and WhatsApp) and see no need to look for additional apps.

While dominant native apps will almost definitely have a place in the future of mobile, don’t be surprised if companies start to shift their focus toward responsive websites instead. Having a solid, responsive website ensures its accessibility everywhere and anywhere for everyone. Once active, a responsive site also leaves no lack of continuity for information or design between desktop and mobile, which is essential for brand messaging.

This is not only effective for functionality, but works from a cost perspective, as well. In 2016, over half of online users are using mobile devices, which means that a responsive website has become imperative. Additionally, Google has begun to “favor” sites that have responsive versions as opposed to those that do not. Having to download a mobile app to make one or two online purchases might also affect the buyer’s mood, which makes having a fully responsive website even more important.

When we talk about the future of mobile, we have to consider what people are using now and why. The top native apps are thriving, while the rest are falling short to mobile websites that are better equipped to handle user’s needs. Technology will always evolve around what users want, and the demand for mobile browsers over native apps has proven to be just that.