Native Apps vs Web Apps

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Choosing the right mobile app strategy is one of the first decisions for your business’s entry into the world of mobile apps. For someone new to this technology it can be confusing to pick what’s best for your product/business, so in this blog we’re hoping to show you what options you have.

You have three choices on your path to mobile app development. Mobile apps are divided into three categories: Native apps, Web apps and Hybrid apps. So which one is best for you?

Native apps: These are standalone bits of software installed onto a smartphone directly from an app marketplace such as the ‘App Store’ or ‘Google Play’. These are the kinds of apps we are used to which we see on our mobile smartphone screens. These types of apps are developed for a single platform (either iOS, Android, Windows etc) using their associated programming language such as Objective C (Apple iOS), Java (Android) or C# (Windows Phone).

Web apps: These apps function through the web browser on a mobile smartphone. They are developed using web standards (HTML5, Javascript, CSS3), which means you only have to make one version of the app and it will work across multiple platforms: iPhone, iPad, Android phones and tablets and Windows Mobile.

Hybrid apps: These combine the features of native and web apps to get the best out of both. The app is developed in HTML 5 web technology, but is contained within a native app wrapper. This reduces development time when making versions for additional platforms. An issue with this though is that there can be a reduction in the performance and ‘look and feel’ of a hybrid app in comparison to a native app.

Native Apps

PROS –

  • The app functions completely without internet connection
  • Native apps have faster performance than a web app
  • You can use the smartphones additional functionality to add features to the app (push notifications, camera, alarm clock etc)
  • The app is distributed via app stores. The only overhead you need to worry about is a developer license which is a yearly fee of approximately £60 for iOS and a one off  fee of £25  for Google Play. With these licenses you can distribute as many native apps as you wish

CONS –

  • If you wish you develop your app for more than one platform (iOS, Android, Windows etc) this means extra costs for development
  • Native apps require more time and money to create then web apps
  • The user needs to manually download updates for the product when they are available
  • Native apps can take time to be reviewed before they are allowed on to some app marketplaces. Apple generally takes a week to review and asses if they will allow your app on to their App Store. If they reject it, it will take another week to review the changes and approve until they accept it on to their marketplace

 

Web Apps

PROS –

  • Develop a single version that will run across multiple platforms through the smartphones web browser (Android, Apple iOS, Windows Mobile)
  • Deploys instantly from your server, and updates are immediate
  • Cheaper and quicker to develop than native apps

CONS –

  • Requires internet connection to work. If connection is poor then the app will perform erratically
  • HTML 5 adoption is fragmented across platforms. This means your web app may not look identical on different smartphone platforms
  • Does not support Digital Rights Management (DRM) background processing, or secure storage and push notifications

Once you’ve defined your business objectives, target audience and technical requirements, it should be easy to decide whether what you need is a native app or a web app. Generally, if your app is required for a niche functionality then a native app would be best. If you what you are targeting is a large consumer audience then it would make more sense to make a web app (instant updates and it works across multiple platforms).

If you’re still feeling unsure what route is best for you, please contact us with your questions and we can give you our professional opinion on how to streamline your mobile strategy.