This year, the number of mobile users worldwide will reach approximately 3.5 billion, according to Statista. Imagine that each of these users has unique life experiences and preferences, and you’ll understand the struggle mobile app developers face every day trying to meet the needs of such a diverse public. To achieve the highest possible accessibility of applications and fit the demands of modern customers, progressive web apps (PWAs) were created.
The natural question appears: should I choose a good old native mobile app or prefer a progressive web app?
To help you make an informed decision, we’ll consider the main features of both these solutions and take a look at their main advantages and drawbacks.
How Native Mobile Apps And Progressive Web Apps Work
First and foremost, we have to understand the main differences between native apps and PWA’s. Both these solutions have certain strong and weak sides, and you should choose one option or another following the features of your business.
Native apps, as the name suggests, are applications built for a specific operating system with the use of particular software and programming languages. Development tools intended to be used for a specific mobile platform allow optimizing the app functionality and unleash platform performance potential. To create such an app, developers have to use programming languages supported by a platform on which the app should run. For Android, Java, and Kotlin are examples of such technologies. For iOS, developers often use Objective-C or Swift. Native apps can then be downloaded onto devices from the App Store or Google Play.
Progressive web app, on the other hand, is a website that behaves like a native app. For a user, the main difference between a native app and PWA is that in the second case, there’s no need to download the application from an app store. Any user data can be saved on a user’s device in the cache. Such an approach allows using the latest version of the app without downloading any updates manually.
Now, let’s take a more detailed look at the strong and weak sides of native apps and progressive web apps.
Native Mobile Apps. Exceptional Performance That Will Cost You Dearly
Native apps have better performance and excellent security features. Unfortunately, you must pay for these opportunities. Native app development usually takes much time, and the overall process may be pretty complicated. Each target platform requires a separate codebase. Therefore, development and further maintenance may become a real headache.
Native apps are built specifically for a particular platform. It means that for each target platform, your development team will have to use different sets of technologies. Developers usually build native apps for various platforms simultaneously, which involves additional testing and complicates the overall process. Not a surprise that, in most cases, the delivery time will increase manifold if you prefer a native app over other options.
The good thing is that the final result won’t disappoint you. High level of performance if what you get when you invest enough time and effort in development. Especially if your app works with complex animation or process vast amounts of data.
Excellent performance is probably the main reason to choose a native app. Such apps can use the full range of possibilities that the hardware of a mobile device provides. The application will have the ability to connect the device hardware features and different databases without the need to use any extra add-ons. Besides, it’s much easier to make a native app secure using such approaches as two-factor authentication.
If you want to ensure excellent user experience, native apps can be the right choice. For example, to ensure that all Apple users will be satisfied with their apps, all iOS applications must comply with Apple’s Human Design Guidelines.
Also, you can be sure that developers you’re dealing with are aware of all the strengths and weaknesses of using well-established technologies. Therefore, there’s no doubt that the most optimal approach for receiving desirable results can be developed with minimum effort. Native apps can connect to other apps on the user’s phone, thanks to third-party services such as authorization via Facebook or Gmail.
Progressive Web Apps. Great Accessibility For a Fair Price
The main advantage of PWAs comparing to native apps is their independence from app stores. High accessibility allows users not to feel bound with the application they use and receive experience close to the native apps. All that is required to start using a PWA is a web browser. Unlike a standard website, progressive web apps can work autonomously in offline mode, which helps to keep them up to date.
With a PWA, your customers will get a unified user experience since the application looks and behaves the same in a browser and as the app installed on the device. Therefore, there will be no need for a user to learn new tricks and get used to the new interface.
Progressive web apps use service workers to handle requests and storing data in a cache. Service workers are scripts that a browser runs in a separate thread. The use of service workers allows PWA to load pretty fast and even compete with native apps on that field. Since the speed of loading is critical for retention and engagement, this feature should be kept in mind.
Unfortunately, there are some drawbacks that don’t allow us to recommend PWAs as a one-size-fits-all solution. For example, you may face some feature restrictions caused by the limited functionality of this kind of apps. For example, a lack of access to contacts and calendars may be pretty disappointing for some users. Also, PWAs can’t access Bluetooth, which is essential to indoor geolocation. Therefore, if you plan to use the whole variety of features that a modern mobile device can provide, progressive web app in some may be considered only as an additional option that will complement your native mobile app.
Native mobile apps development requires a significant amount of time and money. In exchange, you will receive an app that provides excellent performance and can utilize every feature that a mobile device can provide. The question is whether your particular case requires such investments or not. The use of modern web development technologies allows creating non-native apps that indistinguishable from native ones for most users. Progressive app is an example of how such results can be achieved. In addition to a reduced development price, you can receive an app that works fast and don’t require the use of app stores to be installed. Also, PWAs are made as app-imitating web pages allowing you to utilize SEO to reach valuable users.
Contact us to learn how XB Software can help you with PWA development.