Welcome to DistilledU, the online search marketing university.
You can try the demo or sign up for a full account to access all modules and our whole video library.
Already a member? Log in
Questions? See our FAQs
In this lesson we will cover:
The definition of an “app” in this context
The high level differences between apps and mobile websites for users
The basics of the differences in how they are developed
"App" is short for "application" - and could describe any computer program. In the context of this module, we are talking only about apps installed via an app store onto a mobile device. Although some elements are more general, we’re focusing almost entirely on iOS apps on iPhone / iPad installed via the iTunes store, and Android apps installed via the Google Play store, as these dominate the market.
The average user uses 26-27 apps per month, 85% of the time they spend on their mobile devices in an app, and 80+% of that in their top five apps. For more and more companies, getting users onto their app is a core part of the conversion funnel.
At the same time we’re also seeing that app views don’t always match to equivalent mobile web pages - threatening Google’s mission to organize the world’s information.
From a user’s perspective, the main differences between using an app and using an equivalent mobile website are:
Apps have to be installed before they can be run - sometimes involving a large download.
Once installed, apps can sometimes offer a slicker, faster experience by using core operating system functions, and by having their framework already downloaded to the device.
Apps have native access to all the functionality of the device - making it easier for them to offer location-based services, to interact with the camera, offer offline access, and more.
Installing an app adds it to the user’s coveted home screen by default. While it is possible for users to add a web page bookmark to the home screen, this behavior is much rarer.
We think there will be some convergence between the capabilities of the mobile web and apps. Google in particular is also investigating ways of lowering the hurdles to using an app you don’t yet have installed with technologies like app streaming.
Behind the scenes there are more differences - and companies choosing to develop apps must be prepared for:
Having to support more than one environment (iOS and Android at a minimum) and possibly deal with platform-specific issues across different devices - especially on Android.
Developing in new and evolving technologies - the minimum technical challenges for building a basic app are higher than the minimum for building a basic website.
The closed nature of the platforms - even though Android is based on open source foundations - means that the availability of specific APIs, the rules of the game, and the ability to promote your app are all subject to the whims of the controlling companies.