The technological world doesn’t stay at a standstill. If some years ago companies had no other choice but to create native applications to reach mobile users, nowadays they can opt for an alternative solution represented by progressive web applications (PWAs).
PWAs are gaining ever-growing popularity being a cost- and time-efficient way to increase user engagement and achieve high conversion rates. In this article, we will provide you with a comparison of native apps vs progressive web apps, covering their main features, pros, and cons to help you choose the most suitable solution for your business.
Defining a Native App and a PWA
A native application is software created for a specific platform, such as Android or iOS. It’s available to download in a particular app store such as Google Play Store for Android or Apple App Store for iOS. Moreover, since native apps should be created separately for each OS, developers have to use different programming languages to build them. Android apps are written in Java, while iOS app development requires the knowledge of Objective-C and Swift.
PWAs vs Native Apps: Comparison
To decide which solution meets your business demands best, native apps or PWAs, let’s compare these two options in terms of various stages and aspects of the development process.
Development Costs and Time
Native apps contain many complex and easy customizing features, which, on the one hand, make them responsive and scalable, but, on the other hand, increase development costs and time-to-launch. Moreover, when creating a native app, it’s necessary to have two development teams that will prepare the product for both Android and iOS users. In case your company has a software engineer qualified in various technologies, you can cut costs on the team, however, prolonging the time-to-market.
Still being a web app with additional functionalities and features, PWAs are much easier to develop. The use of a single code base for any platform and no time spent on validation in the stores helps to accelerate the development process and launch the app faster.
Installation and Distribution
Since there is a growing number of apps in the stores, it’s becoming more difficult to attract users and make them download your native mobile applications. Thus, for the customers to install your app, it should be either unique and valuable, so they will have a goal to look for it, or be well-promoted, so it will be within their eyeshot.
Progressive apps, in contrast, don’t require downloading. To install PWAs, users need to open them in the browser and click on the “add to the home screen” pop-up. Moreover, from the web apps, PWAs inherited an advantageous sharing via URL and little storage space since they are kept on the web server.
Both types of applications support offline functionality. PWAs can operate with no internet connection due to service workers that cache information while native apps use local storage, smooth data synchronization with a cloud, etc.
When it comes to offline functionality there is no big difference between PWAs and native apps. Both of them provide customers with robust and responsive performance even in case of poor or lost internet connection.
Access to Device Features
It’s the point where PWAs and native apps are dramatically different. Native applications boast access to a vast number of device features such as camera, GPS, microphone, accelerometer, and others, depending on the application requirements. In contrast, progressive apps don’t have such a robust integration. They support only features that are maintained by HTML5 for Android and face even more issues with iOS devices.
Maintenance and Updates
Maintenance and updates are essential steps to ensure robust app performance and deliver a better user experience. However, they incur extra costs that vary due to the app complexity.
Since native apps use more complicated technologies, they require more resources at these development stages. While PWAs users benefit from automatic updating, native app updates should not only be developed separately for each OS but also installed additionally by users keeping in mind storage requirements.
One of the effective tools to engage users is push notifications. They serve to inform customers about new goods in stock, sales, promotions, etc., luring them to enter the app.
Native apps have full support for push notifications regardless of the device operating system. PWAs also have this function due to service workers.
According to the prevailing opinion, native applications are beyond comparison in providing a seamless user experience. They offer a personalized product, compatible with device hardware. What is more, native apps use original UI components letting customers enjoy an intuitive environment. However, PWAs are not far behind. They offer customers native-like features and are adaptive to different devices.
Here is a brief summing up of native and progressive web apps pros and cons that will help you choose between entrusting your app development to a PWA or a mobile software development company.
- Fast performance speed;
- Seamless user engagement and user experience;
- Offline mode;
- Easy integration;
- Full functionality.
- High development and maintenance costs;
- Time-consuming development process;
- Not easily discovered in the app store;
- Need regular updates.
- Low development costs;
- Listed in searching engines;
- Offline functionality;
- Take less storage space;
- Cost-effective maintenance and updating;
- Limited functionality;
- Poor iOS support;
- Limited access to device hardware.
In 2021 PWAs and native apps will continue going hand in hand, providing businesses with a seamless customer experience. PWAs are a time-saving and cost-effective solution to reach a larger audience, while native apps offer full functionality, enhanced responsiveness, and fast performance.
To choose one of them, analyze the merits and drawbacks of both application types, align them to your company goals and decide whether to turn to a native mobile or PWA development company. This way, you will manage to have the optimal solution that will help your business stand tall among market competitors.