Native Apps vs Web Apps: Which Suits You Best?

There is no doubt that apps are powerful tools for business growth.

According to industry analysts’ forecasts, the global mobile app revenue could reach a staggering $935 billion in 2023.

NAVWA: mobile app revenue stats

Source: Statista

But given the many app options available, making the right choice is vital to ensure your venture’s success. One key decision is whether to create a native app or a web-based application.

Which type of app can better engage your target users? Which solution best suits your budget and gives you the optimum return on investment?

To answer these questions, it’s important first to understand the key differences between a web and a native app — and I’ll be more than glad to help you with that.

In this blog post, I’ll discuss four factors that set the two types of apps apart. Read on to equip yourself with insights crucial for choosing the ideal direction for meeting your goals.

Let’s begin!

What are native apps?

A native app is a mobile app designed for a specific operating system or platform. It is frequently developed with programming languages specific to the respective mobile device, such as Swift for iOS and Kotlin for Android.

What are web apps?

A web app or web application provides internet-based services or interactive programs that are accessed via desktop or mobile web browsers. This type of software allows users to access and interact with content without downloading an additional program.

Native Apps vs Web Apps: 4 Key Differences to Consider

To help you decide which type of app suits you best, I’ve narrowed down some crucial factors that you should consider when making any kind of app.

Native Apps Web Apps
Features More expansive and interactive than web apps

Can leverage a mobile device’s native features

Limited compared to native apps
Accessibility Downloaded from the app stores

Can be accessed via a local device and offline

Require an internet connection and a web browser (except progressive web apps)

Offer cross-platform, OS, and device compatibility

Performance Generally performs faster than web apps Generally slower compared to native apps
Development Require a separate codebase for iOS and Android

Development is generally longer and more costly

Require a single codebase for all platforms

Development is generally shorter and less costly

#1 Features

To understand why there’s a difference between a native and a web app’s features, it’s crucial to know the development process of each.

Native apps are developed specifically for a particular operating system, such as iOS or Android. In contrast, web apps are created with HTML, CSS, and JavaScript to run in a web browser.

As native apps reside natively on a device, they often have more expansive and interactive capabilities than web-based applications. They can directly access device features, such as cameras, microphones, and even mobile payment systems, much more efficiently than web apps.

Although web apps generally have much simpler features than mobile apps, they make it up through cross-platform compatibility.

Some web-based apps, such as progressive web apps, are dynamic and responsive enough to provide users with a better experience — no matter the device or platform used.

A progressive web app is a web-based application with additional features and is designed to look and function like a native app. Thanks to modern advancements in the web and mobile browsers — combined with the expertise of capable app developers — web-based apps can stay on par with native apps in terms of UI and UX.

One great example of such an app is PointsBet, a global sports betting products company.

NAVWA: Pointsbet app screenshot

After 3 years in business, Pointsbet partnered with Appetiser to accelerate its growth. This collaboration paved the way for creating an innovative web app and other digital products that boosted the company’s explosive growth.

In just 12 months, Pointsbet grew from $100 million to a $3.2 billion brand partnering with NBA superstars Shaquille O’Neal and Allen Iverson!

Read Pointsbet’s case study to find out how your brand can experience the same level of app success.

#2 Accessibility

Web and native apps offer different levels of accessibility.

Generally, native iOS and Android apps are more accessible as they can be downloaded directly from app stores like Apple App Store or Google Play. Some also have offline capabilities, allowing users to access the apps without an internet browser or connection.

On the other hand, web apps are only accessible through web browsers. And while this looks like a downside at the onset, it also has distinct benefits.

Since web apps do not require users to download or install anything, they allow greater accessibility across multiple platforms. They also do not have to be stored locally and take up a customer’s Android or iOS device’s memory.

Additionally, as a web app publisher, you can cascade needed updates without waiting for app stores’ approval. It also eliminates the users’ need to download and install a new version each time.

#3 Performance

One similarity shared by web and native applications is that both their performance may be affected by factors unique to the users.

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Since a native app relies on hardware acceleration to provide faster performance, it may not function optimally if the user’s device lacks enough internal memory. Meanwhile, regular web app users may only enjoy the software’s full functionality if they have a good internet connection.

But setting these factors aside, which of the two app types offers better performance?

In most cases, native apps still tend to outperform web apps. This is because these apps are optimized specifically to integrate seamlessly with native operating systems and assets.

In our experience, compiling native code improves speed performance significantly compared to interpreting and executing JavaScript from web apps. Native apps also tend to cache data locally, making them more powerful in speed and performance.

#4 Development

Native and web apps have unique strengths and challenges in terms of development.

Since native mobile apps offer a high level of functionality, developing them from the ground up tends to be more arduous and costly. They also often need to meet a more comprehensive range of codebases and design languages required by native platforms, such as iOS and Android.

This is one reason why we developed the Appetiser Baseplate, a unique, patented development framework that lets us produce high-quality native mobile apps faster and at a lesser cost. Hit us up if you want to learn how your project can benefit from this exclusive solution!

Consequently, native mobile app developers must possess specialized programming knowledge and skills. In addition, they need to have a deeper understanding of the mobile platforms’ native libraries and software development kits.

With an ever-increasing range of mobile devices consumers use, native app developers must also consider potential configuration problems across multiple mobile platforms.

On the other hand, web developers require a broader knowledge of web technologies and multiple programming languages, such as HTML5, CSS, and JavaScript.

Unlike their native counterparts, progressive web apps are less limited by the guidelines and requirements of each platform and mobile device. This makes building web apps typically quicker than native mobile app development. It also generally costs less since it often requires fewer resources.

Now, in saying that…

Let me just point out that I emphasized the words ‘typically’ and ‘generally’ for a reason. That’s because the cost and timeframe of app development — regardless of the type — can be affected by the features and functionalities you desire to add.

For this reason, we highly encourage app publishers to first explore the core components of their app idea through a prototype. This will allow you to save significant time and resources on bells and whistles that may not even sit well with your users.

What about hybrid apps?

One type of app that has become increasingly popular in recent years is a hybrid app.

Hybrid apps are applications that combine the elements of both web and native development. They were developed using web-based technologies but can be downloaded from the app stores and deliver a near-native experience.

Think of hybrid apps as web applications wrapped in a native shell.

They possess a single backend codebase similar to progressive web apps but are placed in natively enabled containers. This allows them to leverage many native features while remaining accessible and usable on any device.

Sound like the ideal choice, isn’t it?

But just like native and web apps, hybrid apps have their own sets of drawbacks.

First, hybrid apps load significantly slower than native apps. This is because the extra layer wrapping around its codes requires additional processing to run natively.

Performance and device compatibility can also be major issues with hybrid apps.

Since they are not natively compiled, hybrid apps rely upon a bridge between the device’s native capabilities and the hybrid app’s web view. This can lead to slow-loading pages, lagging graphics and animations, and other issues that lead to user frustration.

And as you may already know, poor user experience is bad for your bottom line.

NAVWA: quote on user experience

Image Source: UX Mastery

Weigh in both business and user perspectives

When deciding which type of app suits you best — native or web — the answer will rely significantly on your project’s needs. I suggest you weigh each option’s pros and cons from a business and user experience standpoint to cover all possible angles.

Generally, if you need more control over the design, UX, and features, then native apps might be the way to go. But if you’re looking for an accessible platform with a more economical overall budget and quicker development time, then a web app could be the better choice.

Both options can be equally successful with the right planning, research, and strategy. So, take the time you need to make an informed decision.

And if you need some guidance and insights from the experts, feel free to reach out to us at Appetiser. We’ll be glad to provide you with a free consultation.


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Jane Eslabra is a Content Marketing Specialist at Appetiser Apps. She has 14+ years of experience producing traditional and digital content. When she’s not busy being a wordsmith, she’s out swimming, taking a long walk, or trying new activities that will keep her eyes away from the screen and her body moving.

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