When the world’s first iPhone was launched by Apple way back in 2007, it created an entirely new industry. Since then, the mobile landscape has evolved branching out into new segments like groups that use native apps and progressive web apps (PWAs).
As a result, business leaders who are thinking about launching a mobile app have to make an educated decision about the path they wish to take. In the early days, those who had enough and more resources to throw at a mobile app built it while others didn’t, but this is no longer the case.
So how do you choose between a native app and a PWA?
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There are several pros and cons to each approach, but what are the key differences?
The primary difference between a native app and a PWA is the fact that native apps are designed to work on a specific mobile platform, namely, Android or iOS (and have to be downloaded from the appropriate app store).
PWAs, on the other hand, deliver an app-like experience through a web browser. Some say that this approach embraces both the best of websites and mobile apps, however, there are some limitations when it comes to features and functionality.
Some highly successful PWAs are as follows:
As you can see from the list above, the PWA approach isn’t restricted to any specific business model. However, while native apps are a lot more complicated and harder to build, they’re more robust than PWAs.
At the same time, you’ll also have to deal with app store bureaucracy before it can be published and this can directly impact your time to market.
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Taking all this into consideration, what’s best for your business? The right answer to that question will depend on your specific business and the resources that are available to you.
PWAs Make Sense for Limited Budgets
This means faster time to market and with significantly lower development costs. This approach will make perfect sense for those who are just starting out. However, it’s important to note that PWAs won’t work on wearables like the iWatch.
Native Apps Are the Only Option to Leverage Third-Party Hardware
If your app needs to utilize device hardware like Bluetooth beacons and cameras, native app development will be your only option. This is because PWAs don’t support third-party hardware and it doesn’t look like this will change anytime soon.
Native app development is also the only way to go if you want to embrace augmented reality. Furthermore, as web apps are considerably slower than native apps, you also have to make decisions based on the user experience that you’re hoping to deliver.
PWAs Are Perfect to Boost Your Search Engine Results Page (SERP) Ranking
Google rewards websites that are fast and mobile first, so if you’re just starting to build a website, the PWA approach can actually kill two birds with one stone. In fact, websites that also have mobile versions will rank higher this year.
Since native apps published in app stores aren’t connected to your website, they won’t help when it comes to SERPs. Even if the app in the app store shows up during a Google search, it won’t have a significant impact on where your website shows up in the results page.
Native Apps Help Build Credibility and Brand Value
App store ranking is a great way to build credibility for your brand. This is because being published in the app store means that you have passed their vigorous performance and security standards.
If you’re going to handle sensitive data or working in a highly regulated industry like finance or healthcare, native apps are the way forward. However, this doesn’t mean that PWAs can’t meet the same security levels as native apps.
To enjoy the credibility and visibility that you can get from an app store isn’t easy. This is because there are millions of mobile apps out there and your app store ranking will be key to being discovered. This makes it important to ensure that in-store SEO is handled properly.
As you can see from the above, both native apps and web apps have their own advantages and disadvantages. This makes it important to make a decision based on your specific business needs.
If you want your app to display rich functionality, high-quality graphics, be available offline, and process a large amount of data, native app development is the way forward. PWAs make sense if you don’t have the time or resources to develop and support the app. It’s also the right choice if you want to reach a large audience across platforms without leveraging specific OS and device features.