Web-App: Mobile Web Application

By Web-app we mean a web application, generally speaking of Client-Server type programs accessible through your web browser in a network, such as the Internet. The Web-apps can also be used locally on your PC by installing a Web server such as ampps or xampp. Web-based applications are increasingly popular today due to their versatility and compatibility.

Mobile web-app: what is it?

A mobile web-app is a web application, that is, an application that can be used directly through a web browser from one's mobile device and does not require software of any kind to be installed on the device. Generally, this type of solution is used to provide services that can be easily used by users connecting through devices of different types, such as Android smartphones and tablets, iPhones, iPads and the like, so whatever browser and operating system are used. For example, it will be possible to enjoy a mobile web-app both on Android smartphones through the Google Chrome app and on iOS through Safari.

Web-app: when the app is not just mobile

Mobile web-apps concern only the sphere of mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets, but it is equally important to point out that web-apps, i.e., more generic versions of mobile web-apps allow the same application to be enjoyed on any platform, whatever its type and the operating system installed, this provided a web browser is present. A popular example of this is Whatsapp Web, which allows access to the classic Whatsapp app from any device via any web browser. We can see web-apps then simply as a more generic version of a mobile web-app, which can also adapt to non-mobile devices, such as notebooks or PCs. Of course, the features present will be exactly the same and the interface will remain the same, apart from some details related to the better arrangement of buttons and app components according to screen size. In fact, on mobile devices, web-apps will have an interface optimized both to make the most of the limited screen space available and for use through a touch screen.

Mobile webapps: how do they work?

The typical architecture of a mobile web-app is almost the same as that of a conventional web-app. In fact, it provides for the use of a client-server model, where the client is represented by the tablet, smartphone or otherwise the device with which the app is accessed, while the server is represented by the web server where the application resides and runs. The web server in particular will be the one that provides the processing power needed to run the app on the client, that is, it will be responsible for receiving requests from the client, processing them and responding accordingly, delivering the requested content. All this then allows the power of the server to be harnessed, centralizing all the workload and making the client a simple viewer of the interface and results obtained.

Mobile web-app: birth and history

Initially, mobile web-apps were developed using languages such as PHP, for example, which operate completely server-side, loading onto it all the work that needs to be done to display the page. This operating scheme could be useful as long as applications were particularly simple and lightweight and mobile devices were not very powerful. However, the development of increasingly powerful mobile devices has led to increasingly complicated and refined interfaces for traditional applications, those that are downloaded and installed on the device. For this reason, the need for mobile web-apps has become to adapt and compete with conventional apps also in terms of the aesthetics and usability of the interfaces.

Mobile web apps: the evolution with HTML5 and JavaScript

The advent of HTML5 has brought considerable development and advancement in the area of web-apps and mobile web-apps. It has made it possible, in the first place, to develop highly customizable interfaces that are similar to those of conventional apps, so that the differences from them are not perceived in any way, as was perhaps previously possible to notice, either in terms of the aesthetics of the interface or the speed or functionality of the entire app. On the other hand, the introduction of the use of languages such as JavaScript has made possible and accelerated the development of this type of modernization. Thanks to it, in fact, it was possible to rebalance the workload, which prior to its introduction was completely unbalanced towards the server, which was responsible for all forms of operations related to the display of the result on the client. In fact, the development of more and more complex functions led to an increasing load on the server side, which is why it became necessary to shift it even partially to the client side, delegating some operations to it. This was made possible mainly due to the spread of increasingly powerful smartphones and tablets, which therefore would no longer have the need to delegate the execution of operations to the server, but would even benefit in terms of responsiveness by performing part of the operations locally. In fact, the use of JavaScript, which allows some of the operations previously performed with PHP on the remote server to be performed locally, made it possible to achieve levels of responsiveness equal to those of conventional apps, thus further closing the performance gap that had come to exist.

Mobile web-app: areas of use

The possible areas of use of a mobile web-app are really many and range on various fronts, especially adapting to use with dynamic content. Some examples of areas where this type of app has found success are:

  • Online shops
  • Contact management systems
  • Synchronized calendars
  • Office suites
  • Systems for collaborative work
  • Internal business management systems

Mobile web-app: what are the advantages?

The advantages of using a web-app are really many, especially when compared with a regular application.

  • Usable directly in the browser: it does not require the download of any file or application, avoiding the occupation of additional space on the device.
  • Unified interface: presents the same interface on all devices, regardless of the operating system or browser used.
  • Adaptability of the interface to screens of all sizes: makes buttons and menus mobile, so that they can best adapt according to screen size.
  • Perfect for dynamic content: the centralized nature of these applications makes them particularly appropriate for use with dynamic content, that is, content that is subject to frequent changes.
  • No need to update: updates occur solely from the server side, so that users do not have the burden of dealing with updates in any way: in fact, the we-app will always be accessible to the latest version.
  • Data security: given the web nature of the application, data will always be stored on the server, so that security management can be centralized, both against possible intrusions and accidental data loss.
  • Scalable environment: the centralized nature of web-apps allows them to scale well, so that hardware and software resources can be tailored perfectly to specific needs.

Mobile web-apps: why prefer them? (conclusion)

Mobile web-apps really have few disadvantages compared to traditional apps, especially after developments that have seen the modernization of their graphical appearance and responsiveness. In addition to all the advantages given in technical terms, it should also be considered that the development of a mobile web-app is certainly more cost-effective than the development of a conventional app. In fact, the mobile web-app, once created, will require one-time maintenance, unlike a conventional application, which will instead require specific adaptations and development for each of the supported platforms, thus leading to a final cost that is generally higher.

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