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PWA vs Native Apps

PWA vs Native Apps: Which Is Best for Your Business


With increase in smartphone usage, Native and Progressive Web Applications have become more prevalent than ever before. In fact, giant companies like Flipkart, Amazon, OLX, etc. have both a native and PWA. But not all the businesses have the budget and resources to create both simultaneously. And choosing one over the other is a tough decision. If you’re having a hard time to decide whether to build a PWA, or a Native app — you’re not alone.

Throughout this blog, we will take you through pros and cons of Native and PWAs. By the end of this blog, you will be able to determine which type of app you should develop. If that sounds exciting, let’s get going.

Progressive Web App

Progressive Web Applications are built with technologies like HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. While they are not exactly native applications, they deliver a user experience similar to them. They can be downloaded/installed by visiting a specific website on a mobile device. Once installed, they can be accessed right from your homescreen.

PWAs are…

  • A perfect blend of native and web apps
  • Similar to native apps
  • Fully responsive
  • Easily installable
  • Accessible offline
  • Discoverable by search engines

Pros of PWAs

Being relatively new, Progressive Web Applications have a lot of advantages. Let’s look at a few of the most prominent ones:

Affordable: The cost of developing PWA is significantly lesser than Native apps. In fact, you will need more resources to build a Native app than you would for developing PWA.

Adaptive: PWAs are adaptive and will deliver a consistent user experience across multiple devices of varied screen sizes.

Fast & Lightweight: PWAs are agile, load faster, and are lightweight. They use service workers to create programmable content caches – which results in better performance all round.

SEO-friendly: Progressive Web Applications are discoverable by various search engines. Moreover, you can also distribute them via app stores.

Apart from the above mentioned ones, there are many more benefits of developing PWAs. For instance, they can work offline (unlike your website), and have a higher engagement rate.

Cons of PWAs

Like everything, PWAs have their own disadvantages. Here are a few you must know about before considering them for your business:

Drains Battery: Because the code architecture of PWAs is intricate, phones have to work hard to interpret and run it. Ultimately, this drains more battery of a device it’s installed on.

Limited Device Access: Unlike Native Apps, PWAs cannot access all the in-built features of your mobile (ex. NFC, bluetooth, etc.).

Compatibility with iOS: PWAs aren’t compatible with iOS devices older than 11.3. Additionally, they cannot access many in-built features like touch/face ID, ARKit, etc.

Conflicts on Legacy Devices: Because PWA is a newer technology, it won’t work with older phones which run outdated browsers and operating systems.

While PWAs are great in many ways, they cannot do everything. Thus, they are less reliable than Native mobile apps.

Native Apps

Native applications are built in specific programming languages (ex. Swift, Kotlin, etc.) for a particular platform (iOS, or Android). They can access a device’s inbuilt features like microphone, gyrometer, GPS, etc. Native apps are all around us from navigation maps (ex. Google Maps) to social networking apps like Facebook and Twitter.

Native Apps are…

  • Highly reliable
  • More dynamic
  • Functionally rich
  • Easily scalable

Pros of Native Apps

Native apps are functionally rich and deliver immersive user experience by harnessing mobile’s most intricate features like AR and VR. Here are a few pros of native apps:

Personalized UX: Native apps can deliver highly personalized user experience. Moreover, you can customize everything from navigation to UI to make your app user-friendly and intuitive.

Fewer Bugs: Because Native apps are built individually for specific platforms, you can easily prevent errors during the development phase.

Full Device Access: Starting from gyrometer to GPS, Native apps can harness all the features built into a mobile device. Thus, they can deliver an intuitive and immersive user experience.

Highly Stable: Native applications are highly secure and stable. You can easily integrate third party services to these apps and they would still deliver a seamless user experience.

There are many other advantages of developing Native mobile applications. They are easy to maintain and are highly scalable.

Cons of Native Apps

Native application development carries its own demerits. Here are a few disadvantages that you should know about:

It’s Expensive: Native app development is extremely costly as compared to Progressive Web Apps. Moreover, you will need highly skilled resources to create such an app.

Time Consuming: Developing a Native app (for a single platform) from the ground up is extremely time-consuming and may take months until the final build is ready.

Support & Updates: Updating Native applications is tricky as you will have to deal with different platforms simultaneously.

Difficult to Maintain: When you have Native applications for different platforms, viz. Android, iOS, Windows, Mac, etc. it becomes extremely difficult to maintain them all at once.

While it’s tempting to build a Native mobile application, you must also consider the costs and challenges associated with it.

Native vs. Progressive Web App Comparison — Key Differences

DifferentiatorNativeProgressive Web App
Inter-app communication (i.e. sign in with Facebook account)Available.Not available.
Development TimeTakes longer time to develop.Can be developed quickly.
Access to Native Mobile FeaturesYes.No.
AccessibilityDistributed via App Marketplaces (ex. Google Play Store, & Apple App Store).   Cannot be indexed by search enginesCan be indexed by search engines

Which One Should You Pick?

We get it. Even with all the pros and cons discussed above of PWAs and Native apps, it’s not easy to pick one over the other. Let us help.

PWA if:

  • You don’t have enough resources and want to go live quickly
  • You don’t need some advanced mobile features like camera & accelerometer
  • You can do with limited features and don’t need something extremely intricate

Native App if:

  • You need a complex application that dynamically adapts to your user’s preferences
  • You have a reliable technology partner/in-house developers who can maintain and manage native apps for different platforms
  • Your app can’t work without using advanced mobile’s features

Final Words

Yes, it’s a tough choice. But you have to make it. Both have their own advantages and disadvantages. It really depends on your needs. Some businesses (like Flipkart, and Twitter) have developed both. You can consider doing so provided you have enough time and resources to maintain both.

If you’re seeking to develop a PWA/Native app, it’s time that we collaborate. Having done that for several years now, we know what it takes to create amazing mobile apps that stand out. Share with us your requirements and we will be happy to help.

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