PWA vs Native Apps and How to Make a Right Choice between them?

“App” or “application”, there is hardly anyone business/person that isn’t aware of this word as today’s world is app-driven. Apps have become an integral part of our lives and it’s hard to stay away from them. 

At the time of Q4 2021, there were around 2.89 million apps on Google Play. 

It’s pointless to debate the utility and viability of a mobile app. The debatable question here is whether to have a Progressive Web App (PWA) or a native app as both come with a distinct set of perks and promises.

PWA vs Native Apps

While PWA claims to make you fast, have better control, and expand your reach, native apps are well-known for their amazing user experience and exceptional features. This is a tough choice to make indeed. However, as a CTO or CEO, you have to make a call, right?

If you’re also at this cross-road then I will help you make a wise choice. 

What is Progressive Web App (PWA)?

For beginners, PWA or Progressive Web App is an application development model wherein apps are designed using well-known web technologies such as HTML, JavaScript, and CSS and feature the efficacy of native apps. It blends the power of web technologies and the ease of native apps in the right proportion. 

One can perceive this approach as a process of turning a website into an app and improving the browsing experience of the customers.   

This inventive application development process is winning hearts because of its high responsiveness and performance. 

Recent research suggests that the progressive web application market is going to touch the mark of 10.77 billion dollars by 2027.

Be it the page load speed or customer engagement, PWA brings impressive results at every front. The perfect example of this is Lancome’s PWA app. After the successful development, the company has harvested boisterous benefits. 

What is a Native app? 

A native app is a platform and device-specific application built with platform-specific technology and works only with mobile phones or tablets. They are not browser-compatible. Mostly, such apps are developed for Android and iOS platforms and can be downloaded from Apple App Store and Google Play Store. 

Mobile devices have indeed changed dramatically, and a company like Apple is going to make sure that big companies are writing native apps to fully utilize the resources of the device”.

Bret Taylor, Facebook’s former CTO
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When Should I Consider PWA?

PWA is the right choice to make when: 

  • You own an educational portal, e-commerce platforms, and event websites 
  • You need to keep your customers updated about every step or move you make. With the Push Notification feature, PWA ensures that nothing goes missing 
  • You need an instant boost in the page load time, website traffic, conversion rate, and average user time
  • The development budget is limited as PWA app development is relatively cost-effective as a simple update of the existing website will do the job. 
  • You seek a low bounce rate as PWA apps can work offline and have a higher page load speed 

Twitter, with its Twitter Lite PWA, claims to have straight 75% jump in tweets, 65% rise in page per session, and 20% dip in bounce rate.

When Should I Consider a Native App?

Native app development is the best bet to make if: 

  • Customer experience is your top priority. As the platform-specific technology is used to build native apps, users will have a better app usage experience and smooth operations 
  • Your focus is on secured operations. Native apps are not browser or specific language-dependent which makes them perfect from a security point of view. Such apps come with powerful encryption to keep malicious content at bay

Mark Zuckerberg claimed to experience doubled feed story consumption after an updated iOS app.

Main Features And Differences

Speaking of feature delivery, it seems the native app wins the battle as this app will have direct access to system hardware.

Its integration abilities are certainly of top-notch grade and better than the PWA app.

Native apps are likely to have better data export, cross-platform communication, payment, access control, geofencing, motion detection, and other features.

However, the above doesn’t mean the PWA app has no features.

There are features like push notification, authentication, speech synthesis, and so on for a standard user experience. But, as it can’t access your hardware, limitations are there for sure. 

The main differentiating factor between these two apps is how end-users access them. Native apps are available via app stores and need installation/download/set-up.

PWA apps are free from all these installation hassles. 

Cost of Development & Maintenance For Both PWA and Native Apps 

While one tries to figure out which type of app is best for their business, ignoring the development and maintenance cost is a sin and can cause endless trouble. Let’s figure this out. 

Honestly speaking, native apps are pocket-heavy as a business has to design separate apps for Android and iOS platforms. Also, you need to hire different developers for it.

For native Android apps, Java or Kotlin programming language is used while iOS development demands Objective-C or Swift. Two different technology stacks mean different development teams. 

Also, as a different codebase is used for Android and iOS native app development, maintenance cost is on the higher side. 

Those who are cost-concerned will be relieved heavily by PWA as its development is light on the pocket as one-time investments lead to building app solutions that work seamlessly on all the platforms. No specific technology stack is considered essential for their development.

When it comes to maintenance, the same sort of seamlessness and cost-effectiveness can be experienced as there is only a single codebase to look after. 

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Security Comparison

Whether native or PWA, security is a non-negotiable aspect of app development and anyone involved in the task must know which wins on this front.

PWA app operates over HTTP. HTTP is the industry’s best browser-to-server encryption. Creating a secure ecosystem for the end-users is possible with PWA and personal data is utterly secured.

Security is strong with PWA but it’s strongest with native apps. Along with end-to-end encryption, there are GDPR compliances, and user login sort of security features to keep user data safe. 

As if that wasn’t enough, one has the freedom to implement MFA and certificates for more secure communication. Before a native app reaches its respective app store, it has to meet certain security criteria that promise assured security. No such sort of security monitoring is enforced on the PWA app. So, it’s hard to believe what’s claimed. 

Updates Comparison

Before I compare both these two app development models, one must understand that there are two sides to this; the user side and the developer side. 

Whether it’s PWA or a native app, the user has rarely any role to play in planning an update. But, the user is involved in update implementation. With native apps, end-users have to play a small yet significant part in permitting an update to begin. Rest job is automated. PWA apps won’t even ask this much. 

From the developer’s point of view, updates in native apps are more extensive and details as compared to the PWA. Also, they have launch updates frequently as each new OS update will ask for certain compatibility criteria to be full-filled. 

Summary 

 “PWAs are about making the web experience of your customers a bit more dependable and seamless. But, the magic of native apps isn’t faded”, says Todd Anglin, VP of Product and Developer Relations at Progress, as per SD Times.

Having an app is a must for businesses seeking improved customer reach and market accessibility. With PWA and native apps being two viable options, making a decision is certainly a hard job.  

As a decision-maker, you need to carefully weigh down both the options and pick one as per the need of the hour. I presented a crisp comparison between these two options to trim down your struggle. A native app is great if pleasing customers and improved security are what you seek. PWA is here to improve your website performance on every front. Take your call wisely as the future success of your business depends on it.

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