What’s The Difference Between Native Apps vs. Web Apps

cross vs native

You’ve got an excellent app idea and are about to transform it into reality. The next question is what to build — a native app vs a web app? This question is crucial to define the price and single out the main phases. A thorough native app vs web app comparison will help you realize the strengths and weaknesses of each approach. After reading this article, you will be able to make informed decisions about startup app development. 

What Is The Contrast Between Native Apps vs Web Apps?

At first glance, everything is simple. Users download a native app through specialized stores like App Store on iOS or Google Play on Android. Or, they can open a web solution via browsers. However, the difference in their functionality and the development process is enormous.

Choosing a suitable approach is essential to succeed and crucial when it comes to expenditures and effort. 

If you plan to build your own solution and develop a hybrid mobile app or another product type, keep reading to get a closer look at each app type, its benefits, and disadvantages. 

A Closer Look at Native Apps

First, let’s clarify what this type means. It is an app built separately to work on only one platform. The same app can have several versions with different code that makes it suitable for different platforms. This approach is popular when most of the target audience uses a certain OS. 

Native App Development

Native mobile app development requires a bigger budget because they target only one platform. They are created using specific programming languages, IDEs. To create an iOS app, engineers typically use Swift or Objective-C. For Android, Java is the most widespread choice. 

Different platforms offer their custom development tools, ready-made UI elements, and SDKs. Native applications are considered more customized and personalized solutions if compared with the other app types. Let’s consider their benefits and disadvantages.

Pros and Cons of Native App Development

Benefits:

  • faster performance than in web applications
  • more extensive functionality because they use system resources
  • offline operation
  • enhanced security and safety because of app store approval
  • streamlined development process due to ready-made elements and SDKs

Drawbacks:

  • more costly than web apps
  • design and architecture are built from scratch
  • demanding and expensive maintenance and updates
  • getting approved by a certain platform is hard

Web Apps: In-depth Review

Web applications are built adopting HTML5, CSS, and JavaScript. As a rule, they are created from scratch as there are no standard SDKs (software development kits) to create such solutions.

However, some engineers may use templates. If we compare building a web app vs native app, the process is much easier and quicker. Their functionality is much simpler, and in some cases, they offer more limited performance than native solutions. 

How are Web Apps Different From Websites?

This is a common question when it comes to creating web applications. In a nutshell, a web app is a website that looks and operates like a native app. Users reach them via a URL like they normally do with a website. Then, they can add them to their home screen by adding a bookmark to that page. 

However, there are differences between websites and web apps. Websites aim to advertize, share content, build brand identity, etc. In comparison, web apps are built to interact. Their functionality is focused on a certain user action like making a purchase, viewing details, etc. 

Pros and Cons of Web App Development

Advantages:

  • cross-platform and cross-browser compatibility
  • more cost-efficient to build 
  • faster and more straightforward development process
  • reusable code
  • no permission from the application marketplace needed

Disadvantages:

  • browser and Internet access is necessary for the app operation
  • not so robust functionality
  • below average performance
  • speed relies on the Internet connection
  • not as responsive as native counterparts
  • hard to discover because they aren’t set in the app store
  • poor interactivity and intuitiveness
  • lack of marketing and branding opportunities

What is a Hybrid Application?

It is important to cover this term in this article. Hybrid apps are a cross between native and web-based solutions. Like the native ones, they are available in the app stores and make use of the device functionality. Meanwhile, they are built in HTML and rendered in a browser.

These apps can serve as wrappers for the already existing web page. This way, the app is present in the store, and you don’t have to develop a product from scratch. 

However, hybrid apps aren’t that smooth. Apart from their advantages, they also have significant drawbacks which make the development process more difficult. Probably, the biggest con is expensive customization. If you want to personalize the app’s performance, the expenses are close to native development. That’s why many businesses choose the native approach.

Pros and Cons of Hybrid App Development

Advantages:

  • no browser required
  • access to the APIs and hardware
  • single codebase required

Disadvantages:

  • slower performance than in native apps
  • dependence on the external platform for wrapper deployment
  • costly customization

Key Takeaways

Custom development is a wacky process requiring much attention to detail. Apart from the budget and development time, it is necessary to analyze the characteristics of the future app. After you have estimated the pros and cons, opportunities, and risks of every approach, you should make a crucial decision. We hope that reading this article helped you select the best approach and create a successful app.

About the author

Joshua Bartholomew

A casual guy with no definite plans for the day, he enjoys life to the fullest. A tech geek and coder, he also likes to hack apart hardware. He has a big passion for Linux, open source, gaming and blogging. He believes that the world is an awesome place and we're here to enjoy it! He's currently the youngest member of the team. You can contact him at joshua@pc-tablet.com.