Native app vs Web app: What Developers Need To Know


Originally Posted By Remi Yamazaki  | June 24, 2015  | 6-min read
Abs on August 30, 2020  
Appy Pie - Hybrid vs Native Mobile Apps

Business leaders have important decisions to take more often than others. One of them is about their mobile strategy.

The number of web page views from smartphones is increasing rapidly at 48%. It’s clear, mobile is taking over the internet.

Mobile apps have become an essential tool in every business’s kit. Thus, the need for them to deliver a great mobile experience is obvious.

If you could have your way, you’d have the best of all worlds.
Native Apps vs Web Apps - Appy Pie
Progressive Web Apps (PWA) make that possible. Check out this video that tells you how you can make your first web app.

These apps combine the capabilities of a native app and accessibility of a website. Developers often wonder – will web apps replace native apps in the future?

What follows is an in-depth comparison of native and web apps, focused on the difference between a native and hybrid app, unique benefits of each, and what developers need to know?

Here’s a video that touches upon this interesting subject.

What are Progressive Web Apps (PWA)?

A PWA is a web app that leverages modern web technologies to deliver a standard app-like experience to users. The best examples of PWA are Twitter, Uber, Tinder, and many more.

Why Progressive Apps?

According to a study, an app can lose up to 20% of its users for every step between the first contact, until they start using the app.

The journey of the user starts from finding the app in the app store, downloading it, and then finally using it – this is a time taking process.

But when a user finds a PWA, they immediately start using the service, bypassing the stages of searching, downloading, and installing. Only when the user returns to the app, will they be prompted to install and experience the full-fledged app navigation.

  • Features of a PWA
    • It can work on any device, leveraging the features available on the user’s device and browser.
    • It is a website; hence, it is discoverable by the search engines easily.
    • The responsive UI of PWA can complement a device’s form and screen size.
    • PWAs can be installed on a device’s home screen, making it readily accessible.
    • Mobile app users tend to reuse their apps, and PWAs achieve the same goals through features such as push notifications.
    • PWAs are hosted over HTTPS to prevent cyberattacks making it safe for users.

PWAs are developed using common web technologies including HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.

This does not mean PWAs are the perfect solution, and the Native vs Web app discussion continues.

What are Native Apps?

Native apps are built for specific platforms and are written in distinct languages, such as Swift for native iOS apps and Java or Kotlin for native Android apps.

Native apps are also developed using specific Integrated Development Environment (IDE) for the chosen operating system.

Native apps have their development tools, interface elements, and software development kit.

Interestingly, native apps need to be developed twice – once for iOS, and separately for Android, so that they can work optimally with both major operating systems.

Native apps can run in a self-contained mode on your mobile device and can function on a specific operating system.

Any app you download on your smartphone from an app store falls into the Native app category.

Comparison between native app vs web app:

  1. Ease and Time Duration of App Development
  2. The time duration and ease of development between progressive web apps vs native are quite glaring. PWAs are built faster since developing only one version is required that will seamlessly display on all types of mobile devices.

    Also, since PWAs are built to work on all browsers that can be common for all mobile devices, the development is a lot faster than native apps.

    On the other hand, building a native app takes more time because several versions for different platforms such as Android and iOS devices are developed separately and by different teams.

  3. Different Languages for Different Purposes
  4. PWAs are written to run inside web and mobile browsers, while native apps are written to run on mobile devices only.

    PWA is built using HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, while Native apps are built using Objective-C, Swift, and Java programming languages.

    Java is used to build Android apps and Objective-C and Swift are used to develop iOS apps. Check out this video to get an introduction on programming languages.

  5. Safety and Security
  6. Every digital project must reflect security, especially if the app is handling the personal data of users.

    Native app development involves adding an extra layer of security to ensure user data is secure at all times. It also provides an opportunity to include additional features.

    Native apps can access smartphone information, which makes it possible to build security features such as two-step authentication through the user’s phone number. Also, native apps can include embedded TLS certificates making security prominent for users.

    Progressive web apps although do not have any unique security certification but can be served over HTTPS, making security options strong and reliable.

    So, the question remains – will progressive web apps replace native apps? The answer at this point of time is – maybe. Let’s dig a little deeper, here.

Will PWA replace native apps?

Let’s delve into the pros and cons of PWAs to be able to answer the question with any credibility.

  • Pros of PWAs
    • PWAs can be developed in a shoestring budget as only one code base is used.
    • A single PWA can be built for all platforms as they can run on every web browser.
    • PWAs are easy to maintain by developers due to a single common code they are built upon.
    • Easier for users to discover as PWA pages can be displayed in search results and are listed in common search engines like Google and Bing.
    • The development process is fast and optimized for low cost as it uses programming languages and tools that are well understood and have a bigger developer base.
    • PWAs have a much better UX and are more engaging than Native apps.
    • Easy to operate as there is no need for any administrative permissions. These apps can run from within the mobile device’s browser.

  • Cons of PWAs
    • Marginal security system.
    • Offline usage of the app happens only if the data has been accessed earlier and is available in the cache.

  • Pros of Native Apps
    • Native apps are developed using the native language of the mobile device making the performance of this app superior. It offers high speed with a plethora of sophisticated features.
    • Native apps do not consume a lot of battery and that is one of the reasons why Native apps are better than Web apps.
    • Some native apps can have the unique ability to operate without an Internet connection.
    • Native apps can easily be launched in the app store. And when it comes to React Native vs PWA, native apps follow the Operating System guidelines strictly.
    • Native apps have good integration with the hardware within the device such as a camera, touch screen, and so on.

  • Cons of Native Apps
    • The cost of developing a native app is very high.
    • The installation process is quite tedious and time taking.
    • Native apps cannot fully use the power of SEO; thus, extra costs need to be borne for additional promotion in the app store.
    • Native apps take up too much RAM which is a big disadvantage for this option.

Now that you know all about native apps and PWAs, it will become easier for you to decide which app is best for your strategy.

The choice of the app depends on the end goals. If your goal is to establish a broad mobile presence with less investment across multiple platforms, then you must go for a PWA.

PWA users can also save the app to their home screen without having to download it making it the next big thing happening to mobile.
Create a PWA now!
And if you have the time and resources to hire developers for different options, a native app is the best choice for you. However, there is always Appy Pie AppMakr that is the best way to create an app without coding, in just a few minutes!
Create an app in minutes!
Which one works the best for you? A Progressive Web App (PWA) or a native app. Let us know in the comments section. We love to hear from our readers!

Citations
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Gabor Cselle

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About The Author

Founder and CEO, Appy Pie, Abs has a cumulative experience of over 10 years in the world of technological development and entrepreneurship. His in-depth knowledge of the mobile app development technology and his sharp observations offer valuable contributions to the blog. His areas of expertise are SEO, trends in the mobile app world, and the latest innovations in Artificial Intelligence & Machine Learning. He has a passion for fitness and likes to get his daily dose of endorphins from a run and a strenuous session in the gym.

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