While it is clear to me that "websites" utilize the particular web named "World Wide Web" which by itself based upon the particular Wide Area Network named "Internet", it is unclear to me if native web applications such as generally any smartphone application I have on my smartphone also utilizes the web.

Because native web applications aren't websites and do not require a web browser (but again, does utilize the internet), I ask:

Do common native web applications utilize a world wide web (and the internet it is based upon) or only the internet?


Native applications are not part of the world wide web. The big feature of the world wide web is that you can link to any content by URL from from any other page. Conversely, content displayed inside native applications:

  • Doesn't have a URL
  • Can't link to other places on the web

Furthermore, the world wide web is specified to use HTTP/HTTPS as its protocol, and a web browser as its application. Native applications are pretty much defined to be "not part of the world wide web".

The water gets muddied quite a bit by native applications that are designed to work with and complement the world wide web. Native applications still wouldn't be part of the world wide web but may have a lot of functionality that mimics it such as:

  • Create URLs for their content or functionality
  • Use the HTTP or HTTPS protocols
  • Have links that open content in a web browser
  • Mirror the functionality of a website and take over certain URLs from the browser (very common on mobile devices)
  • Have browser plugins to handle their content types
  • Register URL schemes to open with the native application
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