PWAs vs. Native Apps: Making the Right Development Choice

In the early days -we had two options to bring our business online: web development and app development. But now, tech has evolved. We have one more option with us ie. PWA development.

Although this new term is not a completely new approach, in fact, it is a combination of web development and app development. If I have to give you a brief intro of this – then, we can simply say it as:

”PWA, or Progressive Web App is like a sneaky ninja pretending to be a website in your browser but actually looks and behaves just like an app on your phone.”

In other words, it allows users a smooth, app-like experience directly from their browsers without the need to download an app from an app store.

Isn’t it interesting? Of course, it gives you a point to think about it.

But the problem comes- when you are asked to pick any one out of two. That is what we often see business leaders juggling with when they are asked to pick between a native app and a PWA.

Well, that is a really tough decision to make. For a while, you have to be a knowledgeable banker who knows both terms well. Because, if you make the wrong decision- your failure is ready to say ‘Hi’. 

I wish that you want – so would you like to explore the specifics of each approach to help determine the best fit among the two (PWA vs. Native app)? If you, jump in to learn more.

PWA vs Native Apps: A Complete Overview Using Different Parameters

With a couple of factors in mind, we’ll explore how PWA is different from a native app. Let’s start our comparison with the parameters like functionality- what each one is capable of and any limitations.

  1. PWA vs Native App: Functionality 

PWAs offer a unique advantage with their offline functionality. They can cache content and store it locally. Thus, allowing users to access it even without an internet connection.

This is a game-changer for users in areas with poor connectivity or those who frequently travel. Besides, it also offers functionality like push notifications.

If you are seeking a Progressive web app development company, be sure to consider these powerful features.

For example, the Starbucks PWA allows users to browse the menu, add items to their cart, and place orders offline, syncing the data once the connection is restored.

At the same time, if we talk about native apps, they offer smooth integration with device features like GPS, camera, and push notifications. This allows for a more tailored and immersive user experience.

We see this in Snapchat, for example, using phone features to provide live filters and augmented reality experiences that make user interaction more fun. 

  1. PWA vs Native App: User Experience

PWAs offer a responsive and fast user experience, similar to that of a native app. They load quickly, respond smoothly to user interactions, and provide a consistent experience across different devices and screen sizes.

Twitter Lite saw a significant increase in user engagement after transitioning to a PWA. With an average load time of under 3 seconds, its PWA offers a fast and responsive user experience.

But let’s not count Native Apps out just yet. They offer that native look and feel that users love, with intuitive navigation and platform-specific design elements.

Instagram is a shining example, with its polished interface and addictive features like Stories and filters. It’s like having a personalized playground right in the palm of your hand.

  1. PWA vs Native App: Ease of Development

PWAs are built using web technologies like HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, making them accessible to a wide range of developers.

This accessibility allows web application development company to leverage their existing skills and tools to create PWAs, reducing the barrier to entry. AliExpress, for instance, reduced its development costs by 50% and saw a significant increase in conversions after launching its PWA.

Native Apps, on the other hand, require developers to use platform-specific languages and tools, such as Java/Kotlin for Android and Swift for iOS.

This specialization requires developers with platform-specific expertise, which can increase development costs and time.

  1. PWA vs Native App: Cost of Development

PWAs typically require less development time and effort compared to Native Apps, resulting in lower overall costs. This is because PWAs leverage existing web technologies and development tools.

Also, a PWA development company can reuse code and assets across different platforms.

While Native Apps may cost more to develop. You need to invest in specific platform knowledge, such as Swift or Objective-C for iOS and Kotlin or Java for Android.

Developing for both platforms means maintaining two separate codebases. However, this cost can be cut off if you opt for a cross-platform framework like React Native. which can still be more expensive and complex than developing a PWA.

Furthermore, updates to Native Apps must go through the app store approval process each time, potentially leading to delays and additional costs for maintaining the app.

  1. PWA vs Native App: Performance

PWAs offer fast loading speeds and can be accessed directly via a browser without the need for installation. This instant access and fast loading times make PWAs a convenient choice for users.

Additionally, PWAs can leverage caching and other performance optimization techniques to further improve performance.

Whereas, with native apps, the performance is typically more optimized for the specific operating system and hardware they are running on.

This optimization can result in smoother animations, faster response times, and overall better performance when compared to PWAs.

Native apps have direct access to the device’s hardware and can leverage the full power of the device’s processor, graphics unit, and memory.

This means they can handle more intensive tasks, complex calculations, and high-quality graphics more efficiently than PWAs.

  1. PWA vs Native App: Discoverability

PWAs can be indexed by search engines, allowing them to be discovered through organic search.

This SEO benefit, coupled with the ability to be accessed via a URL, makes PWAs easily discoverable by users.

Additionally, PWAs can be shared via links, further increasing their discoverability.

Native Apps whereas rely on app store optimization (ASO) to improve their visibility and downloads.

While app stores provide a platform for users to discover and download apps, they also require developers to compete for visibility through ASO strategies.

  1. PWA vs Native App: Security

PWAs use HTTPS to ensure secure communication between the client and server, protecting user data and transactions.

When you are developing PWAs, users also get the benefit of browser security features like sandboxing and secure storage.

Native Apps adhere to platform-specific security guidelines and best practices to safeguard user information and prevent unauthorized access.

Native Apps leverage platform security features like app sandboxing and encryption to enhance security for users.

The Bottom Line 

In the world of app development, the choice between PWAs and Native Apps ultimately depends on your specific needs and goals.

PWAs offer a cost-effective solution with offline functionality and fast loading times, ideal for businesses looking to expand their online presence. 

Native Apps, on the other hand, provide a seamless user experience with full access to device features, making them perfect for apps requiring deep integration with device functionalities.

No matter which path you choose, both PWAs and Native Apps have their own unique strengths and can help you reach your target audience effectively.

So, the next time you embark on your app development journey, consider the tale of PWAs and Native Apps and choose wisely.