Annamaria Andriotis writes about the growing popularity of investment apps and the role those apps might play during periods of high market volatility. She also makes an interesting point about native apps versus browser-based apps:
At this point, individual investors have two ways of checking their brokerage accounts from smartphones or tablets. They can use an app – the preferable option, experts say – or they can use a mobile browser. The app offers more ease: Investors can click on the icon to log in to their account as opposed to typing the site’s URL. And many firms’ apps offer more capabilities, including the ability to trade more securities and extra charting options. Charles Schwab’s app, for example, allows investors to use their smartphone to take a picture of a check and cash it into their brokerage account – a feature not available on the mobile browser.
Another advantage I would add: Native apps are better at remembering login credentials. One of the biggest frustrations when using a mobile web browser to access any kind of account—from email to banking—is their reliance on cookies, which expire. Having to reenter passwords in a mobile browser once a month or so is a pain.
I think the model of an always-logged-in native app—perhaps with an additional PIN code up front—is far superior to using cookies and secure URLs. It's especially true on a mobile device where text entry is a frictional step worth avoiding.
Bottom line: If I have a choice between a native app or simply using a mobile browser, I will always choose the native app unless it’s a piece of trash.