Native Vs PWA App Development: Which One Will Make Your App Thrive In 2021?
Updated: Nov 29
Discover the app development model perfect for your business and app’s success with the help of Invatechs.
The app development market and its growth is unstoppable. As the mobile sector grows, so does the projected revenues from mobile app downloads. Whether you’re developing a transportation app, a cooking app or a gaming app, there’s a user looking for your solution. Nevertheless, as the market and technologies’ potentiality has grown, so has competition and users’ expectations.
It’s for these reasons, you need to consider which app development model is the best fit for you in 2021. Two of the most popular choices are Native and Progressive Web Apps (PWAs). Each comes with its pros and cons. Furthermore, each has the potential to serve one business better than the other.
Invatechs are no strangers to app development. We even have an article dedicated to how you can build a mobile app from scratch. In this article, we’re going to take a deep dive into the pros and cons of Native VS PWA development. We’ll also take a look at when Cross-Platform could be the right choice for you.
We’ll consider a range of factors, including pricing, security, maintenance support and much more. If you’re a business considering developing an app, you’re in the perfect place.
By the end of the article, you’ll leave empowered with the practical knowledge to take your next steps. We’ll also introduce you to Invatechs’ own solutions and services.
Native, PWA & Cross-Platform – The Basics
Native mobile apps use specific coded programming language. Objective C is popularly used for IOS; Java for Android. This means the app is built for a specific mobile and a specific app downloading platform; mainly the Apple App Store or Google Play store.
Cross-Platform simply refers to apps that are developed across both downloading platforms. When an app is Cross-Platform, it needs to be developed for both IOS and Android, which means developing the same app with two different programming languages.
However, the game changed in 2015 when Google introduced Progressive Web App development. This alternative essentially allows you to run an app inside a web browser similar to a Native app. It serves as a hybrid app anchored by CCS, HTML, Angular and other web-related standards. Let’s break down their pros and cons in more detail, category by category.
Pros & Cons For Native, PWA & Cross-Platform Development
Pricing will be fundamental to the development model you select. If you have the funds and infrastructure, selecting a Native and/or Cross-Platform model could be a great choice for your app and business’s success down the line. If your options are limited, a PWA can still provide an excellent experience for users. We’ll get into the details of these later.
Pricing goes beyond the cost of developing the app though. You’ll also need to consider the cost of recruitment and the size of your team. When your app is launched, you’ll also need to factor in the cost of maintenance. These factors will have a big impact on which model you go for.
PRO: PWAs need one codebase and can be developed with the most common technologies and software.
PRO: Flexible software that is responsive and scalable to your business/app’s demands.
PRO: Capture the biggest market possible
PRO: Cost of development is cheaper. You’re essentially building a very responsive website optimised to behave and operate like an app.
PRO: Potentially long-term better investment. If you need features like advanced communication channels and/or UI/UX, Native is your best choice.
PRO: All the benefits of Native app.
PRO: Long-term maintenance is cheaper.
CON: Costly development process that takes longer than PWA.
CON: Very expensive option. You’ll need a team that can develop for IOS and Android. You’ll need to budget maintenance support for both apps. This will require a costly infrastructure.
CON: You’ll be missing out on the benefits of a Native app. These can include features like Push notifications.
CON: Requires a more dedicated and skilled team for development and maintenance. Native app developers are more expensive than web-app developers.
CON: Redeveloping the app for Native and Cross-Platform will be a large expense. You’ll need to weigh up if it’s worth developing a cheaper PWA now or funding for a more advanced app in the future.
IOS and Android, the App Store and Google Play stores, are the most popular software and platforms for app development and distribution. The App Store outperforms Google Play in terms of its revenue and popularity.
Nevertheless, it’s also worth considering the location you’re developing for. As Statista has highlighted the popularity of IOS Vs Android differs from country to country. The North American market is ripe for IOS development. Markets in India and China however indicate a trend towards Android.
You’ve got one of the first PROS/CONS when it comes to Native and Cross-Platform development. Where and whom you’re developing for will affect distribution.
Native PROS & CONS: PRO: Well established, popular vendors. PRO: Ability to optimise engagement on the respective platforms with ASO. PRO/CON: Varying measures and protocols to publish on the App Store VS Android’s vendors. For example, Google Play more developer friendly than App Store. CON: App Store claims 30% of revenue. CON: Potential to restrict IOS/Android market and users. Cross-Platform PROS & CONS: PRO: Capture the benefits of multiple markets. CON: Potentially unnecessary, depending on where you’re developing. CON: Costly. CON: The challenges of developing for two different software and devices.
PWAs can be accessed by anyone with a device. Many companies have already realised the potential of PWAs, building PWAs alongside their native apps. Starbucks is one of the most popular examples. This is the beauty of PWAs – the distribution is equitable and easier to implement. All you need is a device and web browser. Andrew Gazdecki in Forbes magazine even forecasted PWAs will replace Native apps in time.
Let’s look at some PROS & CONS:
Users can share the app’s URL.
Still a relatively new and less popular app software.
Leverage the app’s web presence with SEO.
Doesn’t require application stores’ publication protocols.
Accessible to anyone with a device. The benefits of Cross-Platform without the operational expenditure.
Support, Performance & Features
What you need your app to do will also be a big factor when it comes to choosing PWA or Native. You need to weigh up the support, performance and feature capabilities of both models. By now, you can see a lot of the benefits of PWA. It’s cheaper to make and easy to distribute. However, Native offers more advanced UI and UX. Depending on your business, this might be more necessary for the app you build.
For example, Native Apps seamlessly integrate with a device’s code, giving it easy access to a device’s APIs. They also provide enhanced security. This will be crucial for developing something like a banking app. Native apps are built specifically for mobile devices. They can offer push notifications and inter-app communication; not available on PWAs.
If you’re building something like a basic eCommerce app, PWAs are still a viable option. However, if you’re looking to build something more ambitious, Native is your best choice. Let’s do a more detailed comparison.
1. Ability to deliver high quality experience using device’s hardware.
2. More powerful than PWA.
3. Smoother UI/UX experience. For example, quicker payment processes with face recognition/fingerprints.
4. Users will need to update.
1. Faster load.
2. More battery consumption than Native app.
3. Doesn’t take up as much memory and space as Native app.
4. Automated updates.
1. Push notifications.
3. Easier to use payment systems.
4. Smart features: proximity sensors, smart lock, ambient light detection.
5. Potential for augmented reality.
6. Interact with other apps. For example, add notes/events in calendar. Make call or contact with another app.
7. Advanced camera controls.
1. Limited functionality. Without a device’s hardware it’s difficult to provide enhanced features.
2. Great for social media/content feeds. See The Washington Post & Twitter as examples.
1. Developers can access operating systems’ features and software.
2. Dedicated diagnostics tools for Native platforms. E.g Raygun Error Monitoring.
3. Better end-user experience and metrics available.
4. Connect to the IoT.
1. Difficult to sync with IOS Safari. PWAs are mainly a Google development. For example, can’t store more than 50mb of files for offline content.
2. Easier to update.
3. Easier to make existing web properties into PWA.
As you can see, Native offers more when it comes to performance, features and support.
PROS & CONS:
PRO: More advanced capabilities for Native development. Perfect and necessary for challenging app development, e.g games and banking apps.
PRO: PWAs are great for basic apps and don’t need much of a device’s storage.
CON: PWAs won’t be available or sustainable for advanced features. Depending on your app’s purpose, you could be compromising on UI/UX.
A quick note on Cross-Platform development. Cross-Platform grants you the kinds of PROS & CONS we’ve highlighted. Mainly, a wider market and more capable app. It’s easy to build consistency between apps. Platforms can share and reuse the same codebase.
Nevertheless, this still comes with the monetary and design challenges of Cross-Platform development. Developers have to handle specific design expectations for IOS or Android. Some would argue IOS still delivers superior performance to Android
PWAs run using Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS). This provides one of the most common and safe security and encryption protocols for sites. PWAs require their own security certification. So, with PWAs, you’re still getting a high level of security. However, there are still vulnerabilities to be found with PWAs.
By now, you’ve probably already figured out that Native can offer better security. With access to a device’s hardware, Native can offer two-factor authentication. Native apps can also embed Transport Layer Security (TLS) certificates. Moving forward, major browsers are planning on only supporting the latest version of TLS; TLS 1.2 or higher. You can learn more about TLS over here.
In basic terms, Native offers more robust security features, supported by the latest version of TLS. This will once again determine the kind of app you’re creating. Anything dealing with very sensitive data is best hosted on a Native app.
PWA: Recognisable standard of security provided by HTTPS.
PWA: Lacking robust security features. Unable to provide advanced services without device’s hardware.
Native: Advanced and robust security features. Ability to leverage app’s hardware. Inter-app communication. Face recognition technologies. IOS and Android provided security updates.
Time To Market
Finally, you’ll need to consider the time it’ll take to get your app to the market. The average app can take between 4 – 6 months to develop. There’s lots to consider when you’re building an app. Take a look at our article on building a trading app for more inspiration. Things like assembling your team and prototyping are all time consuming factors.
As you might have guessed, Native and Cross-Platform development can be a much longer process. For all the reasons we’ve highlighted above. The demands and protocols of publishing on the App Store. The cost involved. Replicating the app for IOS and Android. The security protocols Native and Cross-Platform demands.
On the other hand, PWAs are the quicker option. They don’t require the distribution protocols from the App Store or Google Play. Web apps necessitate simpler programming and technologies than Native apps. For users, PWAs don’t require any installation.
To sum it up: Native and Cross-Platform deliver the best performance and service for users (PRO!). On the other hand, they’re a more timely and costly endeavour (CON). PWAs on the other hand will get to your users’ hands and pockets much faster (PRO).
Which Is Best For My Business?
You know your business and ambitions better than anyone else. By now, you’ve probably got an idea of what model is needed for your app. We’ll spell it out in simple terms
If you’re building a more ambitious, challenging app, you’ll need Native.
If you’re working with sensitive data and security, Native is your best option.
If you want to provide a high standard of UI/UX, we’d recommend Native.
If you have the funds and infrastructure, Native is a great choice. If you have the means and want to capture the largest market, go Cross-Platform. However, remember where and whom you’re building for. Cross-Platform might not be necessary in an IOS/Android dominated country.
If you want to test your app before committing extensive funding, PWAs are a great choice.
If you don’t have the development team and infrastructure, PWAs are simpler choice.
Whichever you choose, PWAs and Native offer great app potential. In fact, more businesses are choosing to build PWA, Native and Cross-Platform. You can see this with the rise of PWA crypto wallets on the horizon.
Popular businesses like Spotify also offer PWAs, Native and Cross-Platform. So if you’re building an eCommerce store or popular vendor, you might want to consider developing all three models. This gives your users access to as many sites and platforms as possible.
Which browsers support PWA? All modern desktop internet browsers and mobiles support PWAs.
What do PWAs look like on the screen? PWAs can’t offer the same full screen experience as Native apps. However, they’re still optimised to behave like apps. Users can expect a similar experience to Native apps, although there might be limitations due to the app’s UI.
How can users store a PWA? Simply download it to their Home Screen.
How can I figure out which is the right model for my business? Now comes the difficult part. How do I go about developing my app? What are the next steps? Don’t worry. Invatechs is here to provide you with the perfect solution.
In Conclusion – Building What’s Best For Your Business
Developing an app can be an exciting and daunting prospect. Nevertheless, more and more it’s becoming a necessity for businesses. For some, the app IS the business. So finding the right model is crucial.
In this article, we’ve touched on the pros and cons of developing across three popular models. PWAs, Native and Cross-Platform. Still, you might be left with questions about your app’s future. Thankfully, Invatechs is here to help. Our portfolio boasts a range of apps and we have the potential to build Native, PWA and/or Cross-Platform. Invatechs leads with data-driven solutions that save your business time and resources. Invatechs’ team pairs with you to create a bespoke solution that delivers on your ambition.
We’ve created a range of apps with their own demands and challenges. These have included a crypto saving app and open banking app. With our fintech, transportation and logistics services, we can go one step further. Invatechs offers a range of expertise and dedicated mobile app development services. So whatever industry you’re working in, our team can turn your ambitions into a fully fledged and successful app.
What will it take for your app to reach its full potential? Whether it’s a Native, PWA or Cross-Platform solution, Invatechs will unlock that potential. Contact us today and take the first steps towards securing your app’s thriving future.