Is it better to use an app or a website?

Tips & tricks
3 mins
Mobile apps and desktop websites.

If you use services like social media or online banking, you probably have the apps for those services downloaded to your phone. Even though you can log in to, say, Facebook in a browser (like Chrome or Firefox) and avoid cluttering up your phone, many use the app for easy access. But are there other advantages to using apps rather than websites?

There are plenty of cases where certain functionalities are only available on the website, like making big changes to your account details. But overall, apps are the better choice. Here’s why.

Why mobile apps are often better than websites

1. Mobile apps load content faster than websites

Mobile apps work faster because they are already downloaded to your device and don’t have to load everything from servers. This means a better user experience.

2. Mobile apps offer functionality when you’re offline

Visiting websites requires internet access, and in most cases you’ll need the internet to use mobile apps too. The good thing, though, is that some apps can offer limited functionality without an internet connection. For example, the Netflix and YouTube apps let you watch content when you don’t have an internet connection, as long as you’ve downloaded the content in advance onto the app when the internet is available.

3. Certain apps offer functions that websites don’t

On some mobile apps, you can perform functions that websites can’t. One major example is the TikTok app, which allows you to record videos—a defining feature of TikTok, in fact—whereas its website does not.

4. Mobile apps are designed for your screen

The mobile app will almost certainly give you a better experience on your phone. Granted, many websites are designed to be displayed well on mobile devices these days. However, they usually do not have the same interface as their app versions. Do a quick test and see for yourself. Open up the YouTube app on your phone and the YouTube website in a browser. Can you spot the differences? Mobile apps generally offer a more intuitive user interface.

5. You can get helpful notifications through mobile apps

Food-delivery and ride-hailing apps are just two examples where getting notifications is helpful and more readily available if you use apps. Other examples are weather alerts sent by weather apps or breaking news from news apps, if that’s the type of thing you’re into.

6. Mobile apps are just as secure

It’s hard to generalize about whether apps or websites offer greater security. Security issues often stem from server (“backend”) vulnerabilities, as in the cases of data breaches, rather than browsers or apps.

But mobile apps have an edge in a few ways. Apps have to go through rigorous checks of Apple’s App Store and Google’s Play Store before becoming available for download, which offers a high level of security—as long as you’re careful not to download a fake app by mistake.

That said, most websites use HTTPS for security. But you could visit a fake website by mistake. If you already have the legitimate app of a service installed on your phone, you can avoid the risk of visiting the wrong website.

Many common online attacks are designed for the web browser experience. For instance, the browser-in-the-browser attack and various forms of scareware attempt to deceive people while they’re using browsers. These are rarely relevant for the use of apps.

All in all, what’s really important when it comes to security is that you keep your apps and operating system up to date to ensure vulnerabilities are patched; use a strong password, ideally with two-factor authentication; and consider additional protection by using a VPN. These safeguards apply whether you’re using an app or a website.

FAQ: About apps vs. websites

Are apps more profitable than websites?
Why are app sizes constantly increasing?
Is it easier to make an app or website?
What is the biggest app in the world right now?