Native App vs. Mobile Web App

How you develop your app is normally decided at the start of the mobile application development process. In the end, it simply boils down to whether you should develop a native app or mobile web app.

Native apps are apps created for a specific platform. The code used to create a native app for iOS is not same as the code used to create a native Android app. Native apps take advantage of the phone’s capabilities. They are fast, smooth and integrated with the mobile device. You can download native apps from the App Store or Google Play.

Mobile web apps refer to Internet-enabled apps that have specific functionality for mobile devices. They can be accessed via a web browser of any mobile device & do not need to be downloaded & installed on a mobile device. Mobile web apps can work on any mobile device having a web browser. Also, they cannot easily access the core features of a mobile device as a native app can.

Without a doubt, the performance of Native App is better than a mobile web app.

Here’s a comparison of native apps versus mobile web apps with respect to certain factors:

1. User-Interface
In terms of look and feel, there is little difference between a native app and a mobile web app. Some companies choose to develop both a native app and a mobile web app.

2. Monetization
Native Apps can be monetized by Mobile ad platforms. Developers can also charge on a per download basis and app stores will handle the payment process.

Mobile web apps can monetize through ads and subscription fees. Charging users for using a mobile web app requires a subscription-based system.

3. Method of Delivery
Native Apps can be downloaded to any mobile device. They are installed and run as a standalone application & do not require a web browser. There are stores to help users find your app.

Mobile Web Apps are accessed via the web browser of a mobile device. There is no need to install new software updates. However, it will not be easy for users to find your app as there is no app store for Mobile Web apps.

4. Development
Native Apps require a development process for each mobile platform, and every mobile platform has its own native programming language. SDKs, development tools and common user interface elements are provided by the respective platform.

Mobile Web Apps run in web browser of the mobile device. They are written in HTML5, CSS3, JavaScript or any other framework. No SDKs are required to develop a mobile web app.

5. Capability
Native Apps can interface with the features and hardware of a mobile device.

However, mobile web apps can access only limited features of the mobile device.

6. Version of Apps
In Native Apps, some users may choose to ignore an update, resulting in users running different versions of the app.

However, in case of Mobile Web Apps, all users are on the same version.

7. Strengths
Native Apps have a common code base across a mobile platform. App store or Google Play help users find native apps. Users need to download & install the app on their mobile device. The App store approval process ensures quality and safety of the app.

In the case of Mobile Web Apps, users need not go to an online store. Mobile Web Apps can be published in any form as there is no need to get approval by app stores.

8. Weaknesses
Native Apps are more expensive to develop. Supporting multiple platforms result in higher costs. Users can be on different versions and can make your app harder to maintain and provide support. Also, App store approval processes can delay or prevent the release of the app.

Mobile Web Apps cannot access all the features of a mobile device. Supporting multiple mobile web browsers can result in higher costs. Users can be on different mobile browsers and can make your app harder to maintain and provide support. It also may be harder to find a mobile web app because of the lack of a centralized app store.

The decision to build a native app or a mobile web app is dependent on various factors like objectives of a business, target audience, technical requirements, etc. However, sometimes you need not choose between building a native app or a mobile web app as budgetary constraints will decide if you need to build a native app or a mobile web app.

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