Entrepreneurship

Deciding Between Web Apps and Native Apps

Web Apps and Native Apps

In 1994, IBM’s Simon was the first ever smartphone in the world.

A far cry from the present version of iPhone or Android smartphones, Simon did not have any store to get apps from but had ten inbuilt features akin to modern day apps. A lot has happened in the world of apps since then. It is commonplace today, to find organizations marking their digital presence through apps.

Marketers increasingly believe that apps help them connect with the target group and thus, are a great marketing tool. In the B2B space, enterprise apps provide organizations with a tool to help employees be more efficient.

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However, the moment an organization decides to create their app, they face several decisions which impact its success. A wrong decision about the platform, technology or type can lead to wastage of both money and human hours.

Types of Apps

There are two types of apps – native and web. Native apps are coded in a specific programming language such as Objective C or Swift for iOS; Java for Android and Net for Windows. Native apps provide optimised performance in comparison to web apps. They work with the device’s operating system to allow faster performance.

Web apps in comparison are not as fast or reliable. They are the responsive versions of websites that would work on any device. They need a browser to run and are usually written in HTML5, JavaScript or CSS.

While they require less device memory, access to a fairly fast internet connection is a pre-requisite or else the result is a poor user experience. In spite of the challenges, web apps provide the lowest cost of development due to a single code base unlike the native apps where the app needs to be developed uniquely for multiple platforms.

Choosing the Right Type

In order to decide which type of app is most suitable for an organization, they need to do a comparison between both types. There are various elements to consider, as below.

App Development Process

Native apps are uniquely developed for each platform leading to higher costs as each platform uses a different programming language. Web apps generally use HTML5, JavaScript, CSS3 or any other language.

For native apps, there is a standardized SDK (software development kit) and development tools and processes, all of which leads to a relatively easier app development process. Web apps provide no such standardization or SDK kits to begin with.

Accessibility

Native apps can be installed from the app store. Once installed an icon pops up on the device screen from where the user can access it. Web apps can be accessed on the browser when the user searches for it. They do not need a download hence and can be saved on the home screen if desired.

Native apps can access all the features and hardware of a device they are compatible with such as GPS, accelerometer, camera etc. Whereas, web apps can access a limited number of native features. On the other hand, web app can update themselves with any user intervention while native apps need the user to download the latest updates.

Cross-Browser Compatibility

Native apps provide limited user access as they are made for a specific platform. This provides a limitation although it also ensures a refined user experience. Web apps are compatible as they are built using a widely deployed mobile technology. Developer can create the responsive instance of the web app, publish it and the user’s browser window then displays it correctly as per the device’s screen parameters.

App Monetization

Web apps can be monetized through in-app advertisements, membership fees etc but need their own payment system in place. For native apps, some device manufacturers lay restrictions on integration of services that enable monetization, however, the app store takes care of the payments through a revenue and commission model.

Efficiency

Native apps are faster, more reliable and provide a good user experience as they are specifically developed for the device. They can only be accessed via an app store and hence users can be assured of their quality. In contrast, web apps do not have any authority controlling the app quality.

Their efficiency is linked to the browser performance and network connection as the data loads from a server. Both types of apps can work offline although web apps utilise cached data when offline. This limits the efficiency as not all parts of the app might be accessible.

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In conclusion, native apps provide an efficient and personalised experience, but web apps aren’t bad either. With improved technology, web apps have proven as great uses cases in formats like social media when providing truncated version of website essentials in app form.

It is prudent to consider the above-mentioned aspects before deciding which one is the best for your business in terms of time-to-market, target audience, budget and product requirement. Once these thoughts are crystallised it will become easier to visualise an app that reaches its full potential and meets business objectives.