Progressive Web App vs Native Apps: An Extensive Comparison

January 21, 2020 10:08 am

In this connected age, developing a responsive mobile app can be a great start for businesses who wish to shape their marketing landscape, improve business, and win the heart of customers. Interestingly, the development cost for building responsive mobile apps has now gone down significantly due to an increasing number of mobile app development companies. With all these advantages that you will get from developing a dedicated mobile app, things can become sketchy if users don’t take to it. The majority of users won’t even download apps most often because they don’t want bulky apps in their device or they hate the lengthy process of downloading and installing apps from the app store. This is where Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) come in. A PWA is a website that pretty much does the function of a native mobile app. With it, users can access the app right within the browser without having the need to download the app. Since PWAs offer enhanced user experience, they are now beginning to slowly replace native mobile apps. What’s more interesting is that most companies now are having both PWAs and native apps. For example, Pinterest offers a PWA; however, they also have native mobile apps for iOS and Android.

 

Progressive Web App

The concept of Progressive Web App was initially published in an article written by Alex Russel, who was an engineer at Google. In that article, he clearly described the requirements for PWAs.

Anyone who has a clear understanding of Responsive Web Design (RWD) will easily understand the functioning of PWAs. So, what exactly is RWD? In a nutshell, responsive web design is all about writing HTML5 and CSS code so that the layout of the site adjusts and renders depending on the size of the screen. A properly coded responsive web app will look fine on all devices such as mobile phones, tablets or even televisions. Therefore, a PWA effectively utilizes the features that are already offered by RWA or simply, PWA takes RWA to its ultimate level. 

As we have already mentioned, a PWA can be considered as a native mobile app right within your browser. Now let’s analyze the advantages of having a progressive web app for your business.

 

Advantages of Progressive Web Apps

  • High responsiveness: Progressive web apps are highly compatible with multiple devices, no matter its screen size and other specifications. Progressive web apps deliver users with a uniform experience regardless of the device that they are using.
  • Offline support: Progressive web apps provide offline support so the user does not have to be connected to the internet to use their app and can seamlessly work no matter the speed of their internet connection. PWA accomplishes this with the help of service workers. They are proxy servers that are interlinked with the browser, web apps, and the network.
  • Easy to develop: PWA development is comparatively a lot cheaper and faster when compared with native mobile app development as developers don’t need to build the app from scratch for both iOS and Android using specific codebase for both platforms such as swift for iOs or java for Android, a single progressive app can work on both platforms and fit multiple devices. 
  • Easy updates: Frequent updates of apps annoy users, a majority of users decline the update offer which causes frequent crashes and other issues. Users won’t face these issues with progressive web apps as it free users from receiving an update for each time a developer releases new versions.
  • More secure: By using progressive web apps, users don’t need to worry about the security of their data as it uses the Transport Layer Security (TLS) protocol.

Disadvantages of progressive web apps

  • Limited functionality: PWAs lack some of the functionalities that are offered by native apps. Much of the device’s hardware support is exclusive only for native apps. When we compare PWA with native apps, the latter delivers more functionalities that use the device’s hardware such as NFC, proximity sensor, fingerprint scanner, gyroscope, and other advanced sensors.
  • Consumes more power: PWA imparts additional load to the CPU as they are written in high-level web code, this will drain more power than usual from your mobile device.
  • Limited capabilities for iOS: Unavailability of push notifications is a major trade-off for iOS users. Progressive web apps can send push notifications only to Android devices. As a result, businesses such as e-commerce can lose a fair share of their target audience, as iPhone users consume a big portion among eCommerce customers.

 

Native Mobile App

Native mobile apps are specifically built to function on iOS or Android devices. Therefore, a native app can extensively use the functionalities that are offered by the device. They’re installed directly onto the device. In order to use a native app, users have to download it from the play store or app store.

 

Advantages of Native apps

  • High Performance: Native apps deliver great performance as they are particularly built and optimized for a specific platform. Native apps can load faster as it completely utilizes the processing speed of CPU. This is greatly important for CPU intensive apps like games and graphics-heavy apps.
  • Better UI: As native mobile apps are built using native SDKs (software development kits), they deliver a better UI and maintain immersive user experience.
  • Easy integration: Developers can easily integrate third-party services with native apps, these include integration with external services or authorization via social media platforms.

Disadvantages of Native apps

  • High Development Cost: Going native means high development costs for your company. Since native apps are not platform-independent, you need to build different versions of the app to multiple mobile platforms in this highly competitive market.
    For example, an app developed for Android devices will not function on other platforms such as iOS, Windows or any other operating system. In addition, native mobile app development is complex and requires more time to be built. In that case, developing your app simultaneously will solve this issue.
  • More time for your app to go live: Releasing your finished app to the play store or app store can be a long and tricky task for the mobile app developer. The chances of rejecting your iOS app on the app store are higher when compared to android apps.

 

Progressive Web App vs Native Apps: Which one to choose?

While the demand for progressive web apps is increasing day after day, PWA development could soon outstrip Native app development based on its more convenient features. However, this won’t greatly impact the relative popularity of Native apps because of its high performance, hardware-specific features. If you are really unsure about which one to choose? It will be better for you to go with both Native and PWA development as it will help you to increase the reach of your mobile app.


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