Native Apps vs. PWAs: which one is better?

It’s insane to think that just last year, over 200 billion apps were downloaded. At this rate, there really is no questioning anymore how much smartphones and mobile devices have become such integral components in our daily lives. And as the growing number of mobile users rises, so do customer demands. As a result, entrepreneurs and business folks have been bent on finding ways to better provide an improved and seamless digital experience to their end-users.

All that said, which type of app is best?

For this blog post, we’re talking about how a Progressive Web App (PWA), and a native app differ from each other, and which among the two could be the best for your business.

Understanding the PWA science

The simplest definition of a Progressive Web App is a website that’s designed to look and function like a “real” phone app. In other words, PWAs are merely websites you open on a browser on your phone. Still, PWAs will have the aesthetic and functionalities of a native app. Meaning to say, the primary difference between the two app types is how and where you open them. A perfect example of a PWA is the microblogging giant, Twitter. Notice that when you log in to your Twitter account through a phone browser, the UI will very closely resemble the native app.

And while this mobile arrangement may not sound as sophisticated to a few entrepreneurs looking to break into the app world, best believe that it has some of the brighter advantages compared to native apps.

What PWAs are strong at

PWAs are just as adaptive, if not more. Because they’re designed to be cross-platform, they’re going to be just as responsive, stunning, and efficient regardless of which device you’re accessing it from.

Fundamentally, PWAs are websites, so you can expect them to function optimally and seamlessly granted that your internet signal is strong.

One of the trickiest things entrepreneurs will have to deal with when marketing apps is convincing their market to download their latest digital offering. But because this capacity doesn’t apply with PWAs, this pressure may not exist for business heads and founders. Additionally, end-users may never even realize they’re opening an app. It helps that it’s linkable, too! Share the URL to anyone, and presto, they’re on your app!

End-users will also not have to keep dealing with having to update anything on their end, since, again, PWAs are only accessible through browsers. This means entrepreneurs can make sure that all of their end-users are engaging with whatever is the latest version of their app. What’s more, this app type is also protected by HTTPS, making sure end-users are safe and secure. 

What PWAs aren’t great at

Because PWAs aren’t “full” apps, their functionality isn’t diverse. For instance, PWAs are unable to gain entry to an end-user’s browser watermarks, calendars, alarms, and contacts, and getting contact information unless they fill out a form.

Many apps require Bluetooth and indoor geolocation functionalities to complete certain tasks. PWAs, on the other hand, won’t be able to utilize both. 

PWAs have a higher success rate with android devices as not all web browsers support this app type. And considering that Apple’s Safari is the number one mobile browser in America, entrepreneurs might not be able to reach certain members of their target market.

Those who wish to collect consumer data to better study their market might find PWAs to be significantly reductive, too, as one doesn’t have direct access to an end-user’s social profiles and smartphone contacts in this set-up.

The irreplaceable touch of Native Apps

When it comes to rich and impressive functionality, native apps are superior. Contrary to PWAs, native apps published on iOS and Android use every resource possible to meet device-specific demands, which in turn, provide an unmatched user experience. Naturally, the whole process of building native apps differ significantly from PWAs as more work is needed to ensure overall performance success. Still, native apps are subject to how well consumers receive them, and there isn’t a complete guarantee that native apps can outperform PWAs.

Let’s go over the specifics!

What native apps are great at

Note that native apps are built and optimized for certain devices. As a result, you can expect these apps to perform in ways that leverage a mobile’s process speed and technology. And because data is pre-stored on smartphones, apps perform more efficiently.

The capacity to interact with other apps is just as crucial and beneficial today. Native apps allow end-users to connect to third-party services to help complete transactions. From shipping through DHL or authorization via Instagram, integrations with external services come in very handy, especially for businesses that rely on outside platforms to close deals.

Another very strong feature present only in native apps is geofencing. Because smartphones and mobile devices have the technology to determine your location, native apps can easily send push notifications to their end-users when they approach certain locations.

Where native apps don’t thrive as much

One of the biggest drawbacks of native apps is that they can be expensive to make. Apps usually call for teams of developers and coders. Obviously, the more the people involved in a project, the higher the cost.

Customer acquisition is another hurdle business leaders will want to conquer when they launch an app. And while this is a marketing concern more than anything, PWAs holds the crown in this department as users no longer have to download anything to access a site, certain data, or other similar app content. In other words, having to install an app may seem like an extra step not too many users will want to take, especially if their phone’s capacities are full.

Which is better?

We don’t want to be cheesy or anything. But at the end of the day, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer to this question. Depending on the industry you belong to and the market you’re trying to penetrate, one may be better than the other.

The better question to ask here, though, is who should I turn to, to help me build my app?

Tech agencies and no-code providers are virtually everywhere, and depending on which platforms you subscribe to and which experts you ask help from, how your app turns out can vary!

Need help realizing your digital vision? Give us a call!

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