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PWA vs. Native Apps: Choosing the right application in 2024

For anyone stepping into software development, choosing the type of application is a crucial decision to be made as it greatly influences the success of the application. One wrong choice can result in huge losses for the company especially since the software development requires a huge investment at stake. One of these many decisions is choosing between a Native and PWA application. Before we delve into the understanding of the two let us have a look at what each type entails along with their advantages and disadvantages.

What is Progressive Web Application?

A progressive web application aka a PWA is a website that acts as a typical mobile application. A PWA is designed in such a way that it is optimized to perform like a mobile application and is more user-friendly than conventional websites. It uses mobile application elements to ease users into its navigation. Unlike mobile apps, PWA need not be downloaded from app stores and can be found simply on browsers ready to be used. Spotify website when accessed from the mobile is a fine example of PWA and mimics mobile application interface in the most user friendly way.

Pros of a PWA

  • Universal compatibility with various operating systems and screen sizes. 
  • Development costs are lower as code developed are generic costs of simpler reusable codes. 
  • Visibility is much better for PWA as they are indexed better on search engines.
  • No moderation is needed and no installation is required.

Cons of a PWA

  • Limited offline use
  • A limited set of features
  • Use of device battery

What is a Native Application?

A native application is similar to a conventional application which is designed to run on a single platform like Android or iOS but not both. Native applications are natively developed keeping the final user in mind. Native applications however function on a single codebase which cannot be reused. While this limits its application, it caters to the niche the application is developed for, with exclusivity. Native application examples include PokemonGo, Tesla, Waze, Soundcloud, etc.

Pros of native apps

High performance

When an application is made in a native Programming language, the application is set to perform well as it completely matches the platform and its functionality. It is uniquely designed to support exclusive features and an interactive user interface. Unlike generic applications and features, Native apps perform a myriad of functions and have zero to no wasteful features. The users get what they require and pay for – no extra features.

High level of interaction

Native applications and their interface are designed for its niche clientele and it interacts with other native applications without boundaries.

Monetization

Since the code is exclusively built for a project, it can be easily monetized by the owner of the code. Unlike reusable codes, native codes are more exclusive to an application and unique compared to off-the-shelf generic codes.

Security

Native applications are exclusively designed for a project and its objectives and its security deliberations are designed especially for that project. This makes it well-secured against potential threats and data thefts.

Disadvantages of native apps

Costlier than PWAs

Code written for one platform (for example code written for iOS) cannot be used for a different platform( like Android). This calls for two separate developer teams to develop an application for both platforms which can burn a hole in the pocket of businesses. It is either high expenditure or giving up the compatibility of apps with both platforms.

Complex post-release support

Native applications require high post-launch maintenance and support compared to PWAs. Especially when an app needs to be scaled up, user needs and OS requirements increase which further requires its development team to carry out regular health checks and draft upgrades. This can affect native application development costs by leaps and bounds.

On-device installation

Native applications need to be downloaded from App stores and are often big. This can be a deterrent for many users who do not want to dedicate their mobile storage to an application of seldom usage.

Progressive web apps vs native: Decision-making criteria 

Having studied the two types of applications, one can easily surmise the benefits of developing such applications. However, more criteria need to be considered before a decision can be made between choosing between the two. These criteria usually depend on the requirements of an enterprise looking to invest in an application.

Functionality

If an enterprise is looking for exclusive features, native applications are the way to go. However if applications can work with simple features and user convenience is a focus, one must go for PWA applications. 

Budget

Budget is yet another crucial parameter to watch out for when developing an application. It is important to map requirements such as additional skill sets that will be required, complexity of applications, post-release maintenance, and functionalities.

Development timelines

The developmental timelines of both Native applications and PWAs are different. So are the requirements for technical expertise for the same. 

Marketing strategy and business objectives

Industry, competition, and potential audience are parameters that should also be considered. Here the objectives of the company also set the direction for development. These objectives can include increasing brand awareness, retaining customers, or reaching new audiences 

Given below is a table that summarizes a clearer picture of the differences between the PWA and Native applications.

Conclusion

While native apps have been the go-to option for most enterprises, newfound businesses prefer PWAs for their flexibility and versatility. This is the reason Progressive web applications are also becoming powerful tools for businesses leading to a rise in progressive web app development services. An experienced web app development company can help draft a stellar robust PWA that empowers an enterprise with its services.

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