Progressive Web Apps vs Native Apps?
The main option for building an app was going native or hybrid, however recently, a new option has emerged that has taken web apps to a new level, Google-sponsored Progressive Web Apps. Now you can decide it can when you’re building a new app to know which option is suitable for any business.
What is a Progressive Web App (PWA)?
Progressive Web Apps are essentially websites but do not behave like a traditional website that lacks native-like functionality. Progressive Web Apps are not downloaded and installed, though they can be saved to the home screen and operate within most browsers. PWA offers greater functionality than traditional websites, including updating when poorly connected with the ability to send out push notifications.
If you’re thinking about a PWA think about whether you actually need an app or whether a responsive website will do the job just as well, if you do not have any key features like geo-location, calendar, etc.
What is a Native App?
Native Apps are apps developed for a mobile OS – either Android or iOS who jointly control the mobile OS market. Native iOS apps are built in Objective-C or Swift while Android apps are written with Java. However many app building platforms can produce a native app feature, if not hybrid which we will cover slightly below.
What is a Hybrid App?
Hybrid apps operate in a middle ground between a native app and a web app. Essentially, hybrid apps are web apps that are downloaded from the app store. This is done by ‘wrapping’ web code within some native code to allow for certain functionality, such as access to the phone’s in-built camera etc. However, Apple sometimes does not like this and can reject an app if its weak on utilising the native features of a iOS device.
It’s also worth pointing out another technology, React Native, also operates in a middle ground between hybrid and native. As Facebook mentions on GitHub, ‘With React Native, you don’t build a “mobile web app”, an “HTML5 app”, or a “hybrid app”. React Native uses the same fundamental UI building blocks as regular iOS and Android apps.
So What’s the Difference?
Progressive Web Apps
Progressive web apps are cheap, fast to develop and deliver a solution across web and mobile in one simple go. PWA offers access to push notifications, which are crucial to keeping people engaged with your app after initial usage and offers functionality and updates, another key benefit of apps. Essentially PWA’s do not require a download from an app store, which makes them more attractive to first-time users or those not wanting to install an app for any reason, so there is less friction.
If this sounds to good to be true, here are the catches:
Firstly, although PWA offers much of the same functionality apps downloaded from the app store do, this is not to say they offer all of the same functionality. They cannot be integrated with phone features such as Bluetooth, fingerprint sensors and not able to secure data on the phone on which they’re being used, however web apps that now adopt SSL security offer some protection.
Possibly the biggest catch is that PWAs are a Google initiative and there is currently no support for Apple at the moment, however, Apple are now looking to release a webkit (service worker) to give PWA a mainstream boost.
Native Apps offer optimal performance and ability to deal with CPU usage that PWAs cannot match. This is necessary for apps that rely heavily on creating, editing and watching media, or gaming apps, etc, but if your app doesn’t require high performance, then it is the case, how easy your app is to use will also impact how much people use the app. This is where platform specific UI and UX that native apps offer can really make the difference. Designing specifically for iOS or for Android will make your app easier to use and look more in-line with the other apps on a user’s phone.
Which is the Right one for Me?
If your business is developing a platform that you expect users to need to access weekly or monthly rather than daily on both web and mobile then a PWA app is the most cost-effective and useful.
Eventually, if the business is successful with this initial PWA, you’ll probably want to move to a native app eventually, but only if your budget allows this and you feel its important, otherwise a PWA for simply functionality purposes, especially for small business should be just right. Build a PWA today.
Hybrid Apps are a less costly way for any small business to enter the app stores. App builders like The App Office are a relatively quick and low cost way to launch an app, and these can have some native qualities.
A hybrid app will allow you to test an idea and give you time and funds, if needs be, to create a native app, when you ready.
Native Apps are ideal for start-up who want to create a game or media focused application, or for more established businesses with a name and reputation to protect who wish for their app.
The choice is yours, but here at progressive-webapps we can help!