What is better, the browser or the app? Both have their benefits and drawbacks; here’s how to figure out which one you should use.
Browser vs App – Web Applications vs. Desktop Application
Web applications and desktop applications are both known by different names, but they serve the same purposes. Generally, you may use one or the other depending on your preference for gaming on a browser or an app or your need for efficiency in the workplace.
When it comes to using software, there is a fierce debate: should you use the browser or an app? Both have their pros and cons. Some people will argue that apps offer more features than browsers. On the other hand, some argue that the browser is better because of its simplicity and easy access to web pages in one place.
However, it is essential to note that there are some cases where browser-based software is more efficient than its desktop counterpart but before diving into which one will work best for you, let’s start with the basics by defining what web and desktop apps are.
A web app is similar to a website with its interface, except that it has extra features that are made accessible by the use of an app.
Web apps are browser-based, making them compatible with any device as long as it can access the internet. This means that desktop applications are not required for your computer if you use the corresponding web application.
Also, since websites are designed for viewing on smaller screens in front of you, most web apps have scrolling functions instead of buttons or menus that need clicking. A list of some popular web applications includes Google Sheets and Docs (Google Drive), Dropbox Paper, Slack, Trello, Spotify/Pandora/iHeartRadio/other music streaming services, and Facebook Messenger.
A desktop application is similar to a web app in its interface and the fact that it requires internet access before people can use it. However, unlike web apps, they need downloading and installing onto your computer (usually as a .exe file or other executable files).
On top of this, desktop applications have more features than their web counterparts, so you may need to download extra software for those added benefits.
Some examples of popular desktop applications include Adobe Photoshop/Illustrator/After Effects, Apple iMovie/GarageBand, Microsoft Word/Excel/PowerPoint/Outlook/OneNote, Mozilla Firefox/Google Chrome, and Steam for buying games online and playing multiplayer games online. Now that we know what web and desktop applications are, let’s talk about the advantages and disadvantages of both.
Web apps allow access to your files anywhere unless you have limited storage or connection on a particular device. This means that accessing your files from any internet-connected device is easy since it only requires uploading the required data to your account instead of having to download it each time you need it on multiple devices.
If you use Google Docs, for example, you can log into other devices with your email and password once you’ve uploaded work to your account. You could continue working on a document without interrupting your work since the app will save all changes in the cloud so you can access it from anywhere.
Web apps are also usually secure since the company itself hosts them. The security offered means that any data you upload is unlikely to be hacked since it is not stored on your device. For example, if you use Dropbox for storage, there have been no reported cases of hacking into Dropbox accounts that have resulted in stolen users’ files.
Each web application has limited features compared to its desktop counterparts because of its browser compatibility limitations and thus reduces user experience when using them.
For example, Google Sheets allows only general spreadsheet functions such as sorting/filtering/summing/averaging, etc. Still, the real potential lies with Excel, giving you more features that are not available for Sheets.
Some features of web apps require making an account with the service, which comes with extra costs if you want to upgrade storage space or gain access to more features. For example, Spotify is free to use on mobile devices but requires a monthly premium membership to listen to music on desktop computers/laptops.
Desktop applications have most of the benefits listed under web applications except for limited internet connection issues paired with fewer security concerns since most data is stored locally on your device.
Desktop applications provide multiple features for all kinds of users in different fields. For example, Microsoft Word gives you editing/co-authoring tools, while PowerPoint provides visual presentation components like animation and transitions to make your presentations look professional.
Desktop application disadvantages
You need an administrator account on your computer or laptop to install desktop applications which means that you must have the credentials.
Some devices have restrictions on adding new software onto their systems through extra security measures either by the manufacturers through hardware or antivirus companies pushing updates through their security software. Conditions result in fewer desktop app installations, since they are limited by what device owners allow, unless they get rid of these limitations for ease of use.
Most data is stored on your computer or laptop, which means that it is likely to be hacked if you do not have reliable antivirus software installed.
For example, use Microsoft Word without an antivirus, and a hacker sends you a malicious file as an email attachment. They can access all your files since they are stored locally on your device until you decide to upload them into the cloud.
In general, both web and desktop applications have advantages and disadvantages depending on what features each offers to perform specific tasks.