What are the differences between Web Apps, Mobile Apps, and PWA?

Nowadays, developers have various options when it comes to application development. The most commonly utilized types are Web Apps, Mobile Apps, and Progressive Web Apps. In this article, I aim to provide an introduction to these options and outline their similarities and differences. Understanding these distinctions is crucial in determining the most suitable choice for a specific project. So, before delving into the dissimilarities, let me provide a brief overview of each one.

Web Application

A web application is a software program that is hosted on a remote server and accessed by users through a web browser. One of the key advantages of web applications is their compatibility with various computer systems and operating systems, thanks to their reliance on web browsers. Additionally, these applications can be accessed from virtually any computer or device without requiring local storage space. Another noteworthy feature is the ability for multiple users to access and use the same application simultaneously, facilitating collaborative participation. While web applications depend on a network connection, the widespread availability of the Internet has diminished the impact of this limitation.

Mobile Application

Mobile apps are software applications specifically developed to operate on mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablet computers. Although they can range in functionality, mobile apps are designed to deliver high-quality products or services to customers. These applications can vary from simple games to more intricate solutions, depending on the specific needs and expectations of the target users. Mobile apps are typically downloaded and installed on the device through app stores like Google Play or the Apple App Store.

Progressive Web App (PWA)

A Progressive Web Application (PWA) is a type of web application that functions as both a web page and a mobile app, capable of operating on any device. It presents an excellent solution for addressing low conversion rates and poor mobile user experience in online stores. PWAs are developed using HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. They closely resemble regular web pages in terms of appearance and behavior, making them searchable in internet browsers. However, PWAs also provide functionalities typically associated with mobile apps. They offer fast loading times, can function offline, send push notifications, and leverage device-specific features.

Here are the key differences between them:

Web ApplicationMobile ApplicationProgressive Web Application (PWA)
PlatformRuns on a web browserRuns on a mobile deviceRuns on web browsers and mobile devices
InstallationNo installation requiredMust be downloaded and installed from the app storeNo installation required
AccessibilityAccessible on any device with a web browserOnly accessible on compatible mobile devicesAccessible on any device with a web browser
User ExperienceLimited to web interface capabilitiesOptimized for mobile device interfaceOptimized for both web and mobile device interfaces
FunctionalityLimited by browser capabilitiesCan access device hardware and softwareLimited by browser capabilities, but can access device hardware and software with some limitations
UpdatesImmediate updates across all devicesUpdates must be downloaded and installed on each deviceImmediate updates across all devices
Offline AvailabilityLimited offline functionalityCan offer offline functionality with some limitationsOffers offline functionality using service workers


In conclusion, you have gained an understanding of the distinctions between web apps, mobile apps, and Progressive Web Applications (PWAs). Web applications and mobile applications differ in aspects such as installation, updates, and platform compatibility. However, PWAs bridge the gap by combining features from both types of applications. Each application type has its own advantages and disadvantages, and the choice of which to use depends on the specific needs of the program and the user. It is important to consider the requirements and preferences before deciding on the most suitable option.