Native app vs progressive web app: How to choose between them for your business

The market is full of useful solutions for app development. Before considering any of them, one must first choose a paradigm. Should one develop a web application or a native application? It has become a difficult choice. With an increasing reliance on mobile devices and the prevalence of app stores, that act as a massive shopping window. So it becomes even harder. So, if you need to choose between a native app or progressive web app, you should read this article.

What is a native app?

It’s ten years ago when the App Store was launched. Precisely, it happened on 10 July 2008. This event established a substantial mobile app market and changed the distribution of mobile software.

mobile app revenues statistics

Projected mobile app revenue

Native apps run self-contained on your device. They are designed for specific platforms like iOS or Android. Sometimes, even for specific devices like Blackberry or Samsung Galaxy Note 10. Moreover, they can utilize the resources and capabilities of the intended devices and platforms to the fullest potential.

Due to the immense popularity of App Store and Google Play as distribution platforms, native apps have been the way to go for the past 10 years. Native mobile app development has clear advantages over PWA in some regards.

Pros of native apps

A well-optimized native app has several significant advantages over PWA. The biggest one is the offline functionality. While both native app or PWA can offer end users the ability to access the information they want without an Internet connection, native applications win in this category.

User interface and user experience

Native apps are developed in regards to hardware’s specific technical capacities. It means that the application can make the most out of the device. This creates an enjoyable user experience because the interface combines with the smartphone smoothly. However, it’s also expensive. You need developers who know native mobile languages – eg. Swift for iOS – and develop an interface from scratch.

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Progressive app’s code can be reused for different platforms. You can use the same functionality and interface template for the desktop, Android, and iOS edition. At the end of the day, the solution supports three devices instead of one. And all you had to do is editing the existing code base. 

In some cases, however, speed and interface are the key factors – like in mobile games or messengers. Users want to access the features right away, and a minor bug or low page load speed drastically decrease customer satisfaction. 

Security

Security and privacy are definite points for native apps. Mobile app developers or owners need their apps to be secure, protect their users’ personal information. So, if you need to handle sensitive client data – we suggest you consider native mobile development services.

Unlike native apps, PWA is more secure as it serves over HTTPS which allows browser-to-server encryption. As long as the website owner has created a secure environment for the PWA, the chances of personal data attacks are very low.

Distribution

Mobile users spend most of their time in apps, not on the web. The native app wins the market as to distribution in the app stores. Depending on the number of factors: customer ratings, number of downloads, choice of the right category, the app becomes popular and accumulates a vast user base. At the same time, less popular applications are lucky to break even.

time spent on mobile web vs mobile apps

Time spent on websites and webapps vs native apps

Cons of native app for developers

However, native apps do have their cons, especially when it comes to development costs and distribution tactics.

Cost of native app development

The main con to native mobile app development is a prohibitive cost. If you want your application to be cross-platform, you have to develop for both iOS and Android. Add to this web and, potentially, Blackberry and your costs can skyrocket. A native application needs different versions of UI to suit different platforms.

Also, Java, Kotlin, Swift, and Objective-C programmers are more expensive than JavaScript developers. If count the cost of supporting a multiplatform app, expenses and dev time becomes prohibitive indeed.

Distribution through stores has some disadvantages. There are harsh constraints that stores put on native mobile app development, considering the following you can be confident your app will get through the review process quickly. It’s especially the case with Apple’s app store.

app stores

Mistakes are inevitable and destined to happen, eventually. When they appear, an application must be fixed and fixed quickly. Otherwise, the ratings of an application are going to suffer. That means that the dev team has to drop what they are doing and make hotfixes instead. It wastes development time and creates a hectic and stressful work cycle. For this reason alone, there are significant advantages for progressive web apps vs native applications.

In contrast, progressive web apps are widely used. Therefore, their development can cost less time and money. In this case you require only one app that will work on a veriety of devices, including mobile, tablet, desktop. PWA allows using the same design.

Progressive web apps

PWA, which stands for Progressive Web App, is a web page that uses features, similar to a mobile app. Providing the same user experience as a mobile application, PWA is accessible via a browser. Google is the biggest proponent and powerhouse behind PWA proliferation.

Name of video

Progressive in PWA stands for the iterative deployment of advanced features to an existing web application or site. These additional features shouldn’t make or break the core functionality of a website or a web app. On the contrary, they improve or build up core functionality. You can build a progressive web app on top of your existing web service.

The main component of a PWA is a service worker. It is a JavaScript component that manages requests and transactions between a server and a user. They use it to store the required data on the user machine in advance. It stores data in the browser cache or IndexedDB. A service worker can serve data quicker than a server does. It also provides limited functionality in offline mode.

PWA service worker

A web app is a cheaper, quicker alternative to native apps. It may be an optimal solution for the intended purpose, yet it also may be a step back, compared to a native application. The main difference between PWA vs native apps is an ability no deploy to the application stores.

Just like a mobile app, a PWA can send a push-notification and be previewed offline. Basically, such an app has all typical mobile app’s benefits but uses a browser to deliver them.

Progressive web apps versus web pages

You might ask, how is PWA different from a regular website? As opposed to standard web resources, PWAs can perform offline by caching all the accessible elements. PWAs support push-notifications and have an interface like a native app.

PWAs also conveniently synchronize data in real-time. If the internet is down, user requests are saved when and then resent later.

Cost of PWA development

The main benefit behind PWA is ease of development. It is cheaper, simpler and quicker to develop web apps vs native apps. It’s also easier to maintain and support. Application store limitations do not impair the development cycle. You can manage, enable or disable any features. A bad bug doesn’t cause a disaster, as it’s the case in native mobile app development.

To build a progressive web app is going to cost you less for two main reasons. For one, you don’t need to develop multi-platform because it is a browser application its literally one size fits all. For another, it’s very similar to standard web development. There are a lot of competent JavaScript and JSON developers on the market for the lower rate.

Additional benefits

Also, there is no lack of libraries, elements, and assets for web development. You also can use all of the popular javascript frameworks. Which further reduces development time and makes it easier to build a progressive web app.

PWAs are pretty fast to install and access with no app stores or any intermediaries involved. They show quite a high speed of performance due to the web nature (with all the dynamic content and caching).

One of the main PWA’s benefits is its fast user experience. It takes less than 5 seconds to open the app. An user doesn’t have to download and install the solution, it’s available within one-click distance.

PWA vs native app retention rate

When considering progressive web apps vs native apps, take into account that PWAs have better customer retention. If you are already involved in PWA development, please read our “how-to” article.

Cons of PWAs

Of course, despite all its advantages, a progressive web app is not a universal solution – it has its major drawbacks. The main problem is the page loading speed – developers are constrained by the browser’s speed and the quality of internet connection, whereas a native app directly uses device OS roots.

Connecting to PWA is fast and straightforward; that is why it is so useful for intended applications.

Another glaring issue is that PWA uses browser cache for memory storage. It is a browser-imposed limitation that needs some engineering around if an intended app consumes many memory resources. It is also a source of security issues some PWA’s have.

Nonetheless, the absence of PWAs on renowned mobile app marketplaces may turn into a disadvantage. You can miss an opportunity for promotion and target audience coverage. In terms of progressive web apps vs native apps, this is a felt con.