Advantages and Drawbacks to Mobile App Development

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Publish date:

March 19, 2021

Updated on:

March 7, 2024

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Advantages and Drawbacks to Mobile App Development


Mobile applications have become the primary way that people interact with online services today. This makes the mobile app a high-value target for teams to reach their users, market their firm, and offer online services.

Developing a quality mobile app is one of the best ways you can show off your branding and organization to new users while providing quality services to those already on board. App store marketplaces are as much about outreach and branding as they are about providing access to resources.

With the number of smartphone users rapidly approaching 7 billion, the mobile marketplace is a key gateway to reaching users. Doing so, however, comes with advantages and drawbacks that have to be considered before embarking on a strategy that connects you with this audience.

Pros and Cons of Mobile Applications

The complexity and richness of today’s mobile apps alone provide pros and cons inherent to the platform. Large amounts of investment are now necessary to produce an app of the quality and functionality expected by users.

The same amount of resources could instead be diverted into further developing existing services, creating a highly attractive web app instead, or re-investing into the team. Choosing which avenue to take to best advance your company isn’t a straightforward choice.

The option that suits your organization may not necessarily suit others. Here, we take a look at the pros and cons of developing a mobile app and take a deep dive into each kind of application and what they can deliver for your services.

What Exactly is a Mobile App?

Today’s mobile apps aren’t limited to a single solution installed on a device from one of the two primary app stores. A modern mobile app doesn’t even have to be installed with instant apps, hybrid apps, and web apps able to target mobile devices with just as much functionality and performance as a native solution.

Instant apps, for example, can offer a cut-down native app experience without asking users to download the app from the marketplace ahead of time. Hybrid and web apps can similarly engage with users in a way that targets mobile-first yet allows for users to discover services organically.

This ease of discovery and ease of access that mobile development now offers is a big part of why smartphones have become the dominant method of accessing the web.

When it comes to development, the mobile app is most often thought of as ‘native’ application development. Although this can include cross-platform frameworks such as React Native, or Xamarin.

Whether using a framework, native Android or iOS approach, or building an instant app to connect with users, this method of reaching users can be one of the most costly and time-consuming ways to approach application development.

Requiring a greater time to market, increased investment in development resources and domain-specific expertise—native app development can be cost and time prohibitive for small businesses in particular.

In contrast, native apps also deliver a user experience and functionality that customers have come to expect from their services. With tailored branding and resources delivered through a platform specific interface, the mobile app looks and feels like what users have grown accustomed to over the last 10 years.

It’s important to weigh up the cost and time commitment against user expectations and outreach when it comes to creating native mobile apps. Staying up to date with the latest tools and resources in mobile app engineering is critical to this process. To help, We’re here for you to find the right team to develop your new app, just tell us what you need. We can do the work for you and connect you with up to 5 companies within 72h that match your need- all for free.

Advantages of Mobile App Development

  • Improved UI. Apps tailored specifically to the system they run on will invariably outperform experiences that are developed to run through the web
  • Target more users. A significant percentage of users now prefer conducting business through mobile apps. This is particularly true of younger demographics and represents a consistently growing target audience
  • Direct access to your users. An app offers an opportunity to connect with users without going through a third party social media platform or being subject to filters
  • Mobile platform feature sets. Device features such as the camera, sensors, and payment methods are easily accessed by native mobile applications to improve the user experience
  • Operating system features: Full access to OS features such as push notifications means a large number of options are open for directly promoting services and events
  • Offline access. The ability to access various areas of functionality without access to the web makes the experience feel more consistent and reliable to users
  • Create stickiness. Embedding your branding and services in the user’s pocket is a great way to stay connected and forge a more lasting relationship. Having your brand on the device improves visibility and access, particularly in comparison to the web experience

Disadvantages of Mobile App Development

  • Cost of development. Particularly true when targeting more than one native application. Building native mobile apps is a significant investment in money and engineering resources
  • Ongoing maintenance. Adding features, bug fixes, and security updates is an ongoing recurring cost for the practical working life of your application
  • Approval required. Before you can get your service to users, you have to go through one or both app stores first. This approval can take time, particularly in iOS apps. Services operating in restricted markets (gambling, for example) can mean undertaking even more rigorous processes
  • User buy-in required. Conventional apps need the user to download and install them on their device, but some users may be hesitant to do so. Promotions and marketing are often required to encourage wide-scale early adoption

Web App Development

A key alternative to developing a native mobile app, optimizing the web experience for mobile devices is a great way to reach users with less up-front investment.

Using the technologies and tools available today, web apps can create a look and feel that is close to that of native applications with a fraction of the management overhead. For users, this means less consideration has to go into the space required to install yet one more mobile app to their device.

Without requiring the user to buy in ahead of time to install the app, users can simply save a link to the page as a device icon and access the page as if it were an installed application.

For businesses, the advantages of this approach are reduced initial spending and reducing ongoing maintenance costs as upgrades and updates can happen instantly on the web page. Implemented well, the user experience should be tailored to the device, platform, and capabilities of the user’s smartphone or tablet. While desktop users will see a desktop web page on the same site, mobile users will have a device-optimized experience that matches their expectations.

Far from being a transitional step between desktop browser and mobile use, web apps have advantages and drawbacks that make them well-suited to some use cases and are worth strong consideration in almost all cases.

Advantages of Web App Deployment

  • Ease of access. Web apps can target almost all devices and platforms with relative ease. If a device has a browser, then it’s virtually ready-made to access the service
  • Improved web discovery. Search engines have full visibility over web apps and none over native applications. This makes it easier to discover new users searching on a topic or subject matter related to the app
  • Cost-effective. Developing and maintaining web apps is more cost-efficient than native app development. In many firms, the vast majority of the work has already been done to implement web services
  • Rapid time to market. Even starting from scratch, the time requirements to implement a like-for-like web app are much less than a native mobile app
  • Efficient updating. With a common code base for multiple platforms, it’s easier for developers to make changes once which apply everywhere

Disadvantages of Web App Deployment

  • User experience: When accessing services from a mobile device, users expect the interface and usability consistent with the platform they’re on. It’s very difficult for web apps to come close to that, particularly across multiple platforms.
  • Limited feature sets: Access to the underlying device is significantly limited when using web apps. Device native features such as the camera and sensors are often off-limits or heavily restricted.
  • Offline access: Web apps are, by design, reliant on an internet connection to load new pages. It’s possible to save pages already accessed for later offline use, reading lengthy articles, for example. The fundamental nature of the web apps, however, requires a moderate to fast internet connection to remain active.
  • Stability: Variations, changes, and customisation to web browsers mean small bugs are often introduced. Regular maintenance and periodic updates are often required on web apps as a result.
  • No marketplace access: Users won’t be able to discover the service by searching the marketplace for similar apps. This limits access to a vast audience and removes visibility in a place where many may expect to see the service.

Hybrid App Development

While both native and web apps have advantages and drawbacks that suit some use cases better than others, a hybrid approach can be thought of as an attempt to merge the best of both worlds.

Similar to a native application, hybrid apps have a presence in each platform’s app store marketplace. These apps offer the opportunity for users to discover services through the iOS and Android app stores but also enable teams to deliver their core functionality through a web browser embedded into the app.

While the app can be installed in much the same way as a native one, behind the scenes it only requires a fraction of the investment and resources of a fully-fledged native application. Of course, these apps have drawbacks of their own that should be carefully considered too.

Hybrid apps are a solution to many common problems app developers face using both native and web approaches. Why not checking out our cross-platform Flutter teams to see if they are the right choice? Should you decide to proceed with this type of app and you need help selecting the right company, tell us what you need. We can do the work for you and connect you with up to 5 companies within 72h that match your need- all for free.

Advantages of Hybrid App Development

  • Low cost compared to native apps: The significant reduction in costs compared to native application development are clear, particularly when targeting multiple platforms. Only a native container for each platform needs to be built with the content inside shared from the web
  • Advantages of both camps: Hybrid apps are easier to update, can be indexed by search engines and faster to change, much like web apps. They also create the same app store presence and familiarity as conventional mobile applications.
  • Cross-platform functionality: Because the core content is shared from the web, it’s relatively easy to incorporate support for multiple platforms.

Disadvantages of Hybrid App Development

  • User experience lacking: With content loaded from the web, much like a web app, users can be put off by the UI having a different look and feel to the platform they’re using. This can delay and sometimes, in severe cases, prohibit approval in the app store.
  • Limited capabilities compared to native: Hybrid apps don’t typically have the same access to device and OS-specific functionality as native apps. Developers can often address limitations with additional plugins and code but at the cost of added complexity and cost.
  • Disadvantages of both solutions: Like web apps, hybrid apps require an active connection to access most functionality. Similarly, they require the user to download an app from the store.
  • Skills and knowledge needed: For the small details, an experienced engineer with knowledge of native development is often very useful. Some of the skills needed in creating hybrid apps are the same as those for native app development.

Web App, Hybrid, or Native: Which Should You Choose?

When it comes to mobile app development there’s no universal solution. Web apps, native apps, instant apps, and hybrid apps are all essential to modern mobile development. Each one has advantages and drawbacks that have to be considered if you’re to do the appropriate due diligence before starting development.

For apps where the user experience and complex requirements are the key components, then a native solution is likely to present an ideal fit. Where time to market and reducing costs are critical to success then a web app could prove ideal.

You will want to make sure you resolve this so you can begin to decide if you should hire a mobile app freelance developer or a remote mobile app development team.

The teams you hire will play a significant role in how you develop your apps too. Hiring freelance developers or choosing a remote mobile app team will influence the tools and technologies you pursue.

Weighing up the pros and cons of each approach is a complex challenge deserving expert guidance and consideration before landing on a design that only you can choose.


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Ian Deed

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Software developer, mobile application engineer, and writer helping companies to enhance their tech branding and improve the way they communicate with technical and non-technical audiences.

Leaning on years of experience and knowledge to understand technical communication that works from wordy jargon that doesn't.

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