PWA vs. Native App

PWA vs. Native App: Find Your Best Fit in 2024

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The conflict between progressive web apps (PWAs) and native apps has become a crucial arena in the rapidly changing world of mobile technology. PWAs have emerged as a strong substitute for traditional native development as organizations depend more and more on mobile applications to drive engagement and outcomes.

But even as PWAs become increasingly appealing, a crucial query remains: Will they challenge native apps’ dominance? To solve this mystery, we need to examine the intricacies of each choice and recognize their unique benefits and drawbacks.

So today, we’ll delve into PWA vs. native app to equip businesses and developers with the insights needed to plan the optimal path forward.

A Brief Comparison Between a Native App and PWA

The need for apps that are responsive to mobile devices has increased dramatically in the current industry due to the rise in smartphone usage. The discussion over progressive web apps (PWAs) vs. native apps is still going strong among developers, project managers, and startup founders.     

However, it’s important to realize that native apps and PWAs don’t have to conflict. Finding their differences is a wiser course of action than putting one against the other. Rather than arguing which is better, it’s better to examine whether a native app or PWA might be the most appropriate for your company’s needs.

What Is a Progressive Web App?

Progressive web apps (PWAs) are a breed of applications accessible directly within a user’s browser, eliminating the need for direct downloads onto the device.

Essentially, PWAs are constructed as websites but possess the look and feel of mobile apps. Unlike native apps, PWAs consume significantly less storage space on users’ devices. Google characterizes this app category as “reliable, fast, and engaging,” offering developers a roadmap to transform a “baseline PWA” into a finely tuned “exemplary PWA.”

PWA Pros and Cons

Pros of PWAs

  • Cost-effective: Progressive web apps necessitate less development time and maintenance, leading to overall development costs compared to native apps.
  • Fast and Responsive: PWAs have swift loading times and seamless user experiences facilitated by service worker technology, enabling offline usage and caching.
  • Cross-platform Compatibility: PWAs adhere to web standards, ensuring accessibility across various devices and browsers, including desktops, mobile phones, and tablets.
  • Reduced Storage Requirements: They occupy less space on users’ devices than native apps, optimizing device storage.
  • SEO-Friendly: PWAs can be indexed by search engines like any other website, enhancing visibility on search engine result pages (SERPs).
  • Secure: PWAs prioritize security by adhering to HTTPS protocols and encrypting transmitted information.

Cons of PWAs

  • Restricted Access to Native Device Features: Progressive web apps may lack access to certain device features, such as push notifications, camera usage, and accelerometer functionality.
  • Inadequate Discoverability: PWAs may not enjoy widespread availability in app stores, including Google Play/Apple App Store, potentially limiting their discoverability.
  • Security Risks: PWAs are susceptible to cyber threats and may necessitate additional security measures to safeguard user information.
  • Limited User Engagement: PWAs may not offer the same level of user engagement as native apps, including features like social sharing and user-generated content.

What Is a Native App?

Native apps are meticulously crafted applications designed for a particular operating system, software, or hardware platform.

When you envision an app, it’s typically a native app that springs to mind. These are the familiar applications you’ve been installing since the inception of smartphones. Crafting a native app with specific software in focus empowers developers to integrate its distinct capabilities seamlessly. Furthermore, it ensures optimal performance on a designated operating system (OS). Also, see the difference between Native apps vs. Hybrid apps.

Native Apps Pros and Cons

Pros of Native Apps

  • Speed and Efficiency: Native apps outpace web apps in speed and efficiency since they are tailored to the specific platform they run on.
  • Enhanced User Experience: Leveraging the device’s features and hardware to their fullest potential, native apps offer a superior user experience.
  • High Performance: Accessible offline, native apps deliver heightened performance and stability.
  • Offline Functionality: With capabilities for push notifications and offline data storage, native apps excel in maintaining functionality even without internet connectivity.
  • Accessibility: Available for download on app stores, native apps ensure easy discovery and installation for users.

Cons of Native Apps

  • Slow Time to Market: The development of native apps demands more resources and time, necessitating separate versions for each platform and thus delaying time to market.
  • Frequent Upgrades: Maintenance and updates for native apps must be managed separately for each platform, adding to the workload of developers.
  • Higher Development Costs: Compared to web apps, the development costs associated with native apps are typically higher.
  • Lengthy Download Process: Native apps may pose a barrier to entry for some users due to the time-consuming download and installation process.

PWA and Native App Examples

Let’s examine some notable examples of PWAs:

Starbucks: Starbucks‘ PWA, launched in 2017, led to a 23% increase in order diversity and a doubling of day-to-day active users.

Pinterest: After launching its PWA, Pinterest observed a 60% increase in core engagements and a 44% increase in ad revenue rate.

Flipkart: Introduced in 2015, Flipkart‘s PWA saw a 70% increase in conversion rate, a 40% rise in re-engagement rate, and a 3x increase in time spent on site.

Twitter Lite: Launched in 2017, Twitter’s PWA offers users web push notifications, an “Add to Homescreen” prompt, and momentary offline browsing. This resulted in a 75% increase in Tweets sent, a 20% reduction in bounce rate, and a 65% increase in pages per session.

Here are some examples of Native apps:

Instagram: With 2.3 billion+ active monthly users, Instagram reigns as the second most downloaded app globally, facilitating photo and video sharing among friends and followers.

Uber: Uber, the ride-hailing app, saw a staggering annual revenue of $31.8 billion in 2022, experiencing an 82.62% increase from the previous year.

Spotify: As the world’s leading music streaming platform, Spotify boasts over 205 million premium subscribers worldwide, providing users with access to their favorite tunes and new music discoveries.

Headspace: With 1.32 million downloads globally in the 4th quarter of 2022, Headspace is a meditation and mindfulness app renowned for its stress and anxiety-relieving features, coupled with recognizable animations.

How to Choose Between PWA vs. Native App

When weighing the pros and cons of PWAs versus native apps, there’s no definitive answer as to which option reigns supreme. What’s important is recognizing that both development approaches can yield viable products for end-users.

PWA or Native App? The choice between the two hinges entirely on your goals, requirements, and user expectations. To aid in your decision-making process, let’s outline the criteria crucial for consideration at the planning stage.

1. Functionality

Deliberate on the required features essential for delivering an exceptional user experience. Determine whether comprehensive functionality is imperative or if simpler features suffice.

2. Budget

Precise budget estimation and allocation are critical. Assess the need for additional talent, gauge the complexity of envisioned features, and account for post-release support to ensure adequate investment for each development phase.

3. Development Timeframes

Evaluate your tolerance for development timelines. Determine if you can afford to wait for a native app’s release in the app store or if strict deadlines necessitate a more expedited approach.

4. Marketing Strategy

Craft a comprehensive marketing strategy aligned with your monetization goals. Identify optimal channels for promotion and streamline user access to the app by analyzing industry trends, competition, and target audience preferences.

5. Business Objectives

Define measurable outcomes anticipated post-application release. Whether it’s boosting brand awareness, fostering customer retention, expanding reach, or achieving other objectives, clarity in expectations is necessary, considering the difference between a PWA vs. a native app. To also explore the difference between web app vs. mobile app development, read this guide.

Consider a PWA if:

Consider a PWA for streamlined functionality without extensive time and financial investments. For instance, if you operate a restaurant or coffee shop chain seeking to facilitate online table reservations or distribute promotional offers swiftly, a PWA offers an ideal solution. Additionally, PWAs can enhance brand visibility and SEO efforts.

Consider a Native App if:

Opt for native apps if credibility hinges on advanced functionality, seamless access to device features, and heightened security. Native apps empower users to engage in transactions, in-app purchases, media sharing, and more, thus fostering a robust user experience.

Final Words

While native apps have traditionally been favored for their reliability and security, progressive web apps are emerging as a compelling option for businesses and startups, providing a native-like experience at a reduced cost.

Ultimately, the decision rests with you and your business needs. However, if you require expert consultation and mobile development services, feel free to reach out to our NYC app development company.

At Codment, we can assist you in making the best decision and crafting an app tailored to your specific requirements and budget. Contact us today to get started.