Smartphone ordering app

Tips for choosing online vs mobile options

Now that most people have a smartphone, mobile apps have fit countless aspects of day-to-day life right in our pockets. We can turn on lights in our homes via remote IoT options. We can send flowers to our family across the country. We can even pay our bills.

With upwards of five million apps available between the Apple store and Google Play store, smartphone capabilities will only continue to expand. However, even if it’s possible to optimize most services for a mobile platform, that doesn’t mean the public will jump at the idea.

After all, some things are better on a web browser. Let’s take a closer look.

Gaming & entertainment: Online

Video streaming is one of the most popular mobile and browser activities. Platforms from Hulu to HBO Max to Paramount now offer their own streaming services, available on mobile apps, web browsers, and for streaming to other devices.

The same goes for casino and video gaming. Popular video game series like Call of Duty and Minecraft can be played on iOS and Android devices. Meanwhile, sports and casino online platforms have also seen mobile counterparts pop up as companies look to stand out from the competition.

In each case (video streaming, video gaming, and casino gaming), online options are best. Users will get more in terms of video quality and bandwidth, while also mitigating the risk of running up a huge cell bill.

Retail purchases: Online or mobile

In addition to entertainment, another sector that’s evolved to include mobile options is shopping. Stores from eBay to Etsy now allow small-scale entrepreneurs to sell their own products, while apps from brands like Stitch Fix to Zara connect users to exclusive deals.

Mobile and browser options for retail shopping each have their merit. What’s most important for a consumer is the ability to cross-compare prices and deals. With aggregator apps and sites available, consumers have options.

Video chat

Social media: Mobile

Many people are familiar with the thumb’s tendency to open social media apps of its own accord. This collective experience of muscle memory hints that social media is perfectly adapted for a smartphone—and it is.

Pulling up Facebook or Instagram on a web browser might feel strange now that the apps are optimized for a handheld device. Given developers of each platform have pivoted to focus almost exclusively on apps, there’s only one way to go when it’s time to like and post and share: mobile.

Email: Online

Though many younger generations may blame muscle memory for opening social media apps, older professionals often feel the same with their email app. For the most part, having access to emails while on the go can be a lifesaver—but it can also deplete energy.

Email is best kept to a web browser for a few reasons. First and foremost, it’s important to give the mind a break from work. Checking a mobile app like Gmail constantly starves the mind of a chance to rest; keeping emails on a browser will minimize the added hours of hitting ‘refresh’.

Additionally, emails tend to present better when sent from an online browser. Though Gmail, Outlook, and other popular email apps have made great strides in mobile interface, they’re still far from perfect. No one wants to open an email with a tag like ‘Sent from my iPhone’—even if the email is carefully worded and formatted.

Photographs by Abillion / Ekaterina-Bolovtsova