PWAs vs. Native Apps – What’s Best for Your Business?

by Mark Benvegnu
PWAs vs. Native Apps – What’s Best for Your Business?

We all know that Native Apps for mobile devices have taken the world by storm. Over 2 million iOS apps and more than 3 million Android apps have been developed, with more coming every day. Native Apps are now available for almost any conceivable use.

Many businesses depend upon Native Apps to streamline processes, increase customer or employee engagement, enhance productivity and more. And yet, Native Apps are facing some stiff competition from Progressive Web Apps or PWAs. For many companies, PWAs have tangible advantages over Native Apps.

Companies as diverse as Spotify, Uber, and BMW have opted for a PWA instead of traditional Native Apps. Their high-level of functionality combined with a lower cost and the capability to run on any mobile device have made them the obvious choice for more and more companies.

And while PWAs have all the momentum, both PWAs and Native Apps have their pros and cons. Read on to learn the strengths and weakness of each.

What is a PWA?

At a fundamental level, a PWA is a website on steroids.  They are highly functional yet user friendly and developed using well-known web technologies and tools like HTML, CSS, JavaScript, React, and Angular. They often look and act like Native Apps but run in a browser.  And they are usually cheaper and faster to develop than Native Apps.

The Pros and Cons of PWAs

PWA Advantages:

  • They run on any device.  Because PWAs run in a browser, they can run on iOS or Android. PWAs are compatible with virtually all phones and tablets – anything with a web browser.
  • No download required. You don’t need to download and install a PWA. Just type in the URL, bookmark or post it to your home screen and it’s always there when you need it.
  • Low memory overhead. Unlike native apps, PWAs don’t suck up a lot of memory. Depending on the device, that can come in handy.
  • SEO-friendly. PWAs are indexed and searchable. With some intentional SEO, they can be highly ranked and easy to find.
  • Push notifications. Because PWAs are also websites, they can help drive user engagement with push notifications.
  • Button free updates. And like websites, PWA updates are automated. No user effort is needed to implement new features or updates.
  • PWAs cost less to develop. Because they are browser-based, there is no need to develop platform-specific versions. And no platform-specific coding expertise is required, just web knowledge and skills.

PWAs can run within a browser on virtually any mobile device, and they are easier to install and update than a Native App. They are less expensive to develop and highly functional too.

PWA Disadvantages:

  • Battery consumption. Because PWAs require an internet connection, they can drain a battery more quickly than Native Apps. But with the right development techniques, this characteristic is usually quite manageable.
  • Hardware and software limitations. Not all mobile device features are supported by PWAs. However, expert developers can minimize these limitations.
  • Limited functionality on iOS devices. Many PWAs work better and are more functional on Android. But many companies compensate by standardizing on Android devices.

What is a Native App?

Native Apps are written for a specific operating system, either iOS or Android, and can sometimes take advantage of particular features and functions within the OS itself. While they may offer higher performance, Native Apps take longer to develop, cost more than PWAs, and are limited to run only on one OS.

The Pros and Cons of Native Apps

Native App Advantages:

  • Higher Performance. Native Apps sometimes perform better than PWAs in certain use cases.
  • No Hardware Limitations. Native Apps can better exploit the hardware features and functions built into mobile devices in some instances.
  • Excellent UX/UI. Native Apps may have an advantage when it comes to UI/UX. Depending on their design, they may provide more functions and options for screen layouts and navigations, offer smoother scrolling and make it easier to include features like animations. 
  • Security. Because Native Apps integrate the onboard security capabilities of a device, they may be more secure than a PWA.
  • Offline Capability. Many Native Apps can be used offline when an internet connection is unavailable, by using of data synchronization, onboard storage and data cashing.

Native Apps sometimes feature higher performance than PWAs. On the downside, they are more expensive, take longer to develop and can run on only one type of device.

Native App Disadvantages:

  • Higher costs. The math is simple, really, as a Native App will run only on the device and OS for which it is developed.  If you want to run a Native Application on both iOS and Android devices, you’ll need to develop it twice. And you’ll need two development teams, two development cycles, etc., all at additional cost.
  • Native Apps are memory hogs. Native Apps suck up RAM, limiting what you can do with your device at any given time. iOS is even more greedy when it comes to RAM than Android, and can consume up to twice as much.
  • Harder to install. Unlike a PWA, a Native App must be downloaded and installed. For business users, this may be less than of an issue than for consumers, but regardless, its just not as easy as accessing a PWA via a URL.
  • OS and update dependency. Because Native Apps are completely dependent on the OS to run correctly, they are also at the mercy of OS vendors. Security or functionality updates may not be delivered in a timely manner, and when arrive must be manually installed.

In Summary 

While PWAs and Native Apps each have distinct advantages and disadvantages, more and more companies find that PWAs are a better fit for their business. How do you choose which is best for your business?

For most businesses, it’s critical to partner with a skilled and experienced custom software development company to assist in making your choice. The right development partner not only knows the technologies but is experienced in matching the application type to your requirements and use cases. And ultimately, to help you make the right choice for you.

Working with an expert development partner makes all the difference in making the right choice between a PWA or Native App.

Pell Software can Help you Choose the Right Option for Your Business

Pell Software is a premier custom software developer with vast expertise in both Native Apps and PWAs. We can assist you in assessing your unique requirements and objectives and help you choose the best application type for your business. And we can build your company a PWA or Native App that meets or even exceeds your business objectives.

We’ve worked with companies of all sizes and types, ranging from small businesses to startups to national companies in a wide range of industries. So we know how to develop custom mobile applications to help you take back control and ensure your focus is on meeting your business objectives while driving growth and increasing profitability.

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