January 15, 2021

Progressive Web Apps vs Native Apps: Which One Is the Best for Your Business

Andrey Konoplenko

Andrey Konoplenko

Co-founder, Brocoders

5 min read

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Previously, we shared our thoughts on Progressive Web Apps driven by our hands-on expertise in PWA development. This time around, we decided to dive deeper and explain the major difference between PWA and Native App.

However, it should be noted that there is no winner here since the choice depends on your particular needs and business requirements in the first place.

For instance, people open web pages and consume twice as much content on their smartphones as they do on desktop devices, according to SmartInsights. And the number of users who opt for mobile devices will only keep skyrocketing. So it’s no wonder why most efficiently-run companies use both PWAs and Native Apps in order to stay ahead of the mobile domain curve.

Now, before we can share our insights on which solution can best serve your users or fit your business goals, let’s start by refreshing our memory of what Progressive Web App is.

Content

  1. PWAs: pros and cons
  2. Native Apps: pros and cons
  3. Native vs. Progressive Web App Comparison
  4. What should we choose: PWA or Native App?

PWAs: pros and cons

Four key technologies of a PWA

Simply put, Progressive Web Apps are web-related solutions that combine features of a website and a Native App. In other words, these are websites that mimic a Native App behavior, thus creating an app-like experience. The feel and functionality of a PWA rival that of a native app, and you can implement features like offline support, push notifications, and more. With a PWA, you can work with web technologies that you're familiar with, such as CSS, HTML, and JavaScript – thus turning pretty much any website into an app that looks and performs just like a native one. And consumers would be hard-pressed to tell the difference! Did you know that Twitter is actually a PWA rather than a native app? If you visit Twitter.com on a smartphone, you can install it onto your home screen – and after opening the saved Twitter site, it will perform and look like a native app. There won't even be a browser window. What's more, it will run the same on an Android or an iPhone.

Here are the major PWA benefits:

  • It can run on any device or OS
  • You don’t need a large budget to develop a PWA
  • You can save your money and resources since it is developed only once
  • All new features are available automatically once you issued an update
  • You can rely on SEO practices since a PWA is a website
  • It feels and looks like a Native App
  • It’s memory-friendly and takes only a small portion of the device’s storage
  • It can work offline
  • It has rock-solid security since it based on HTTPS, which allows browser-to-server encryption

On the other hand, there are a few drawbacks as well:

  • It has limited functionality on some OS
  • Fast battery consumption since a PWA requires more CPU
  • PWAs may not have full access to as many device’s features as Native Apps

That said, any business can develop a PWA solution to expand its digital footprint and ensure a delightful user experience. However, some companies may consider developing a Native App as of the features that a PWA still can’t provide. But again, it’s only for you to decide which option to adopt for your business goals.

If you want to learn more about PWAs and our case studies, please read the previous article. Now, let’s get to Native Apps.

Native Apps: pros and cons

Benefits of IOS and Android App Development

Native Apps are written to run on mobile devices, providing enhanced performance and a broader scope of features compared to PWAs. These apps types are developed for specific OS platforms (usually built separately for Android or iOS) or even for particular smartphones. In fact, almost any app you download from Google’s Play Market or Apple’s App Store is a native solution by its very nature. A native app lives on the user's device and is accessed by tapping an icon on the device's home screen. These apps are developed for one platform in particular; you won't be able to run the app for Android on an iPhone. Native apps can make full use of all the device's features – the contact list, camera, GPS, compass, accelerometer, and more. Gestures can also be incorporated (standard OS gestures and app-defined gestures alike), plus there are notifications and offline capabilities. Due to native apps' OS-specific features, they deliver a very intuitive, high-performing experience.

Generally, there are four most widely-accepted programming languages that developers use to create Native Apps:

  • Swift or Objective-C for iOS
  • Java or Kotlin for Android

However, there is an alternative — you can utilize cross-platform frameworks like React Native. We at Brocoders have been using this product development approach for over 9 years now. It allows building hybrid apps in JavaScript-like code and submitting the final solutions to both Android and iOS platforms in one go. React Native apps demonstrate outstanding efficiency and feel almost like native ones.

Benefits of Coding Apps with React Native

Now let’s move on to the key Native Apps pros over PWAs.

Enhanced performance and UI/UX

Since code is written for a specific device or a particular OS, a Native App integrates seamlessly with its ecosystem and gets access to all APIs. It’s faster and provides greater capabilities in terms of UI/UX experience. Besides, Native Apps can smoothly interact with other native apps offered by Google or Apple.

Monetization privilege

Unlike a PWA that requires a custom payment processing solution, Native Apps can be monetized using in-built App Stores’ payment systems. Users can then make purchases and buy subscriptions with ease.

App Store Support

While PWAs are SEO-friendly, Native Apps got App Store Optimization (ASO) and Apple Search Ads (ASA) alternatives instead. These are cost-efficient approaches (keyword research, eye-catching titles, meta descriptions and so on) that allow you to acquire new users by increasing your rank in App Store’s search results. Besides, users can rate your app, which by itself is an additional traffic source (if your rating is positive).

Security

PWAs have decent security since they run under HTTPS. However, Native Apps have primary access to all the device’s hardware and software features. That said, it’s much easier for a developer to implement the best security algorithms such as two-factor authentication. Besides, a Native App must meet the requirements of multiple standards set by app stores before it can be approved.

On the flip side of the coin, Native Apps have a few weak spots.

Costly development

You need at least two development teams to build a project from scratch for each platform. Thus, you can ensure that both Android and iOS users will utilize your mobile app. Moreover, the final product requires constant updates and maintenance on two different OS. But again, you can save your budget and significantly reduce development time by hiring React Native experts.

Need time to launch

As mentioned above, Native Apps should be approved by Google’s Play Market or Apple’s App Store first before users can download them. The process can take up to a week or more. In some cases, apps can be rejected for several reasons, such as plagiarism or copyright infringement. If you have a tight time-to-market deadline, it’ll be way faster to create a PWA instead of time-consuming native platforms.

Hard to promote

Native Apps are not indexed or listed in the search engine, so you’ll probably have to reach out to third-party advertising services or buy promotional campaigns on popular websites in order to promote your app.

Installation routine

Users don’t like it when they are forced to go through the searching, downloading and installation processes. Especially when they just need to make a purchase or take a quick glance at a catalog, for example. That’s why they would rather use a website or a PWA instead.

Native Apps vs. Progressive Web App Comparison

Now let’s make a comparison table to enable a clearer insight.

COMPARING ASPECTNATIVEPWA
DescriptionDeveloped for specific OS platforms (usually built separately for Android for iOS)A website with app-like features and interface
InstallationFrom App Store/Google Play, installed directly on a deviceNo installation is required but can be added to the home screen
Access to the device's featuresFull access to the device’s features, including hardware components. System settings can be customizedAccess to the device's features may be limited
Offline operationIt most cases, works properly in the offline mode (depends on app type )An offline mode is available thanks to caching
UpdatesUpdates are carried out by business and usersInstant and automated updates without the end user's concern
Time-to marketLonger to develop, the approval from App Stores is requiredFaster to develop
Development costsOne team for each platform (or one React team for both platforms)One team is enough
PromotionASO, ASASEO-friendly
SecurityAdditional security layers based on built-in device componentHTTPS encryptions
Push notificationsAvailableNot available iOS devices
Inter-app communicationAvailableNot available

Our Experience in PWA Development

At Brocoders, our tightly-knit development team has extensive experience creating Progressive Web Apps. For example, check out EveryPig Logistics! We transformed an existing solution into a modern, powerful logistics core, with a heavy focus on AI-fueled data collection, outcomes tracking, and team/stakeholder collaboration. Our key end-users of the pork supply chain include farm owners, caregivers, EveryPig logistics teams, truckers, and trucking admins.

We have loads of other examples, including Ladder Out, Appetini, CondoGenie, Skilent, and more! But, at Brocoders, we go beyond just PWA development. Whether you need a PWA, a native app, DevOps services, digital transformation, or MVP development, we've got you covered.

What should we choose: PWA or Native App?

With a bunch of advantages of both Native Apps and PWAs, it’s crucial for you to ponder over every detail and choose the right course based on your business strategy and resources that you have at the moment. As you can see, PWAs and Native Apps are equally vital for any business type and size, whether that be startups, fast-growing companies or enterprises.

In some cases, you may need a fast and cost-efficient solution, so it’s better to opt for a PWA. On the other hand, a PWA may not provide a required performance level or cover all the device’s features. In such a way, you may want to consider developing a Native App. Otherwise, you can create both to enhance the customer experience and reach a wider audience.

When to build PWA/Native App

NATIVE APPSPWAS
Building a feature-rich solution is priorityYou are a startup and you want to build a simple app for your users
You want to create a solution that utilizes advanced smartphone featuresYou are on a tight budget and deadline (faster TTM)
Your app requires integration with other appsYou haven't come up with a certain business idea yet, so you want to create an MVP first
You need a mobile solution anchored by robust security algorithmsYour future app's functionality or content might be incompatible with the App Stores' policies
You want to create a 'Reliable' image and enhance the credibility of your brandYou don’t rely on push notifications for iOS users

With almost 100 successful projects under our belt, our in-house software engineers have substantial experience in creating future-proof PWAs and React Native Apps. We are excited to help you reach your business goals and build new innovative projects together. Please don’t hesitate to drop us a line if you want to learn more about the latest PWA vs Native 2020 trends.

Why choose Brocoders? We invest in our developers, so they will invest in you. Because of our unique and supportive atmosphere, we foster a growth mindset among our employees – the benefits of which are passed on to you. Every Brocoders team member is dedicated to ensuring your business success, which is why we help you every step of the way: determining the type of application, choosing the tech stack, assembling an expert team, delivering a successful product, and providing ongoing support.

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