Web vs Native Mobile App: Meaning, Differences, and More

As soon as entrepreneurs decide to challenize the power of apps for business growth, the question of choosing between a web app and native mobile app appears to baffle them. Although native and web apps appear to be the same, they are vastly different, especially when it comes to technologies used in their development and the features they pack.

Since a lot of business owners can't tell apart a web and a native mobile application, Techsquare decided to document the differences and help entrepreneurs make better tech decisions. Before discussing the key differences between these two technologies, let us understand what exactly they mean.

Web vs Native Mobile App: Meaning

Web apps are websites that appear and behave exactly like a mobile application. They don't need installation through the iOS App Store or Google Play Store. Instead, they can be accessed through browsers either on a desktop, laptop, tablet, or smartphone. Web apps can run on internet browsers that are written using Javascript or HTML5. Microsoft 365, Google Docs, and BaseCamp are some of the best web applications.

Talking about native apps, these are not websites but actual applications that are coded with specific tools and in a specific programming language for a specific mobile platform (either Android or iOS). Native apps can be downloaded from app stores but cannot be accessed via browsers. WhatsApp, Spotify, Pokemon Go, and Flipkart are some popular native applications for smartphones.

Web App vs Native App: Functionality

When it comes to functionality, an average mobile application packs less firepower than a full-blown web application. Most native apps for mobile are designed for a single purpose. For example, BGMI lets you play battle-royal matches. TurboTax guides users through tax returns slowly and surely. And Spotify gives you access to millions of songs and podcasts from creators all across the globe.

Web applications, on the other hand, help perform multiple functions. Let's talk about Canva, for example. Although the Australian graphic design platform offers both mobile and web applications to creators, the smartphone version has less than half of the features of the website version. Users of web app gets access to more tools and features.

Web vs Native Mobile App: Speed

While the slow and steady wins the race in the real human world, people prefer solutions that are lightning fast. Put simply, when it comes to user experience, speed matters. And in this section of the web vs native mobile app battle, native apps blaze the trail! That's because the code that runs these apps is stored locally on the smartphone.

Meaning, there is no time spent waiting for static content like images and text to be downloaded from the internet. Yes, it is also true that native apps still have to access dynamic content from the web. But again, we believe they are a huge improvement over web apps. That's because web-based applications have to download data from the servers every single time.

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Web App vs Native Mobile App: Real-time Updates

One of the most important aspects of our web app vs native mobile app comparison. Updates are crucial for maintaining an application and presenting new features that boost user engagement. Implementing in-app updates for a native application is a challenging process, thanks to the strict rules of the iOS App Store and Google Play Store.

Native app owners have to wait many days for app store to review and approve updates. Once that is done, they wait on users to find time and update the app. That's not the case with web applications!

Updates of web apps happen automatically. All you have to do is to push the changes from the backend. The next time users will open the web app, they will get all the new features instantly.

Web vs Native Mobile App: Freedom in Development

Despite design and development advancements that have come over the decades, web apps still rely on browsers features like back, refresh, and address bar to carry out basic functions. That's not the case with native mobile applications. They don't have such restrictions. You can design and develop your app with several elaborate functions based on gestures like double tap, swipe, or hold, that too without worrying about the need for browsers to perform better.

But there's still a catch! You have to act in accordance with the rules set forth by the app stores. Meaning, if a feature you wanted to add didn't fall in line with Google or Apple guidelines, you have to remove it. You are not tied by anyone in a web application though. You are free to add features, offer content, and advertise as you see fit.

Web App vs Native Mobile App: Complexity

Another important aspect of our web vs native mobile application comparison! Imagine you went to a showroom to buy a car. You have finalized everything but the salesman asks you to pay twice its actual price. It will make you feel frustrated, right? Businesses also feel the same when they have to create and maintain a separate code for their native app on each individual platform.

Meaning, if you plan to build a native app for iPhone and Android, you have to design, develop, and deploy one on the App Store and then redesign, re-code, and launch an entirely different app on Play Store. These will cost you a lot of time and money.

Now that's not the case with a web application. You only have to maintain a single code base. Users, no matter what platform or device they are using, will be able to access the app and use it immediately.

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Web vs Native Mobile App: Cost

Our comparison of web vs native mobile applications will be considered incomplete without discussing pricing. Developing an application is hard work, especially when your business is new to the digital world and has no idea how much goes into the development of a native or web app.

The cost of developing a native app depends on many factors including functionality and purpose, platform and supported devices, integration points, use of visual objects, and smartphone hardware features. Therefore, developing a simple native app can cost you anywhere between $10,000 to $35,000. The price of a complex native application, on the other hand, can go up to $72,000.

Moving on to the web app, the estimate for the product development cost varies from $15,000 to $100,000. The final price may go up depending on the complexity of UI/UX design, the scope of work, and developers location.

Web App vs Native Mobile App: Final Words

As you witnessed above, there is no better or worse application approach. Both native mobile and web apps are continuously evolving and catching up with each other. Both have their own shares of advantages and disadvantages. Which option is BETTER for your business will depend substantially on your functionality goals, requirements, reach, as well as available resources including time and money.

That said, we have finally settled the web app vs native mobile app battle once and for all. Planning to hire the best application development agency for your business? Email Techosquare at info@techosquare.com to discuss your project today!

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