What kind of application do I need, a web app or a native (mobile) app? What platforms do I need if I want to support (Android, Apple, Windows, everything etc)? These are important questions you need to answer before you can roll out an application. That said though, apps are great. We all use them, we all love them. But is it really the right tool for you and/or your business? Now without going into the specifics of a web app VS website... our engineers can rant about that one for days if you're interested in reading more about it. Let's just consider that a web app means a website for the sake of this article.
The following gets asked all the time to staff of the zimplex...I need an app! Most people are fixated on the fact that apps are the missing money making tool for their business or that an app will solve all their mobile related business problems. This is usually not case, and the following conversation ensues.
A Native App is an app developed essentially for one particular mobile device and is installed directly onto the device itself. Users of Native Apps usually download them via App stores online or the App market place, such as the Apple App Store, the Google Play Store
and so on.
Web Apps are basically Internet-enabled apps that are accessible via the mobile devices web browser. They do not need to be downloaded onto the user’s mobile device in order to be accessed.
From the point of the mobile device user, some Native and Web Apps look and work much the same way, with very little difference between them. The choice between these two types of Apps has to be made only when you have to decide whether to develop a user-centric App or an application-centric App.
A native App is totally compatible with the device’s hardware and native features, such as accelerometer, camera and so on. Web Apps, on the other hand, can access only a limited amount of a device’s native features.
While a native App works as a standalone entity, the problem is that the user has to keep downloading updates. A Web App, on the other hand updates itself without the need for user intervention. However, it necessarily needs to be accessed via a mobile device’s browser.
PROS OF NATIVE APPS
- Since Native Apps work with the device’s built-in features, they are easier to work with and also perform faster on the device.
- Native Apps get full support from the concerned App stores and marketplaces.
- Because Native Apps have to get the approval of the App store they are intended for, the user may be assured of complete safety and security of the App.
PROS OF WEB APPS
- Web Apps are much easier to maintain, as they have a common code base across multiple mobile platforms.
- Web Apps can be manipulated so as to be made compatible with older mobile devices.
- Web Apps do not need to be submitted to any App store for approval.
- Since Web Apps do not need to be approved by the App marketplace, they can be released at any time and in any form, as per the developer’s preferences.
- Users need not bother with visiting an App store to download Web Apps or updating the same on their mobile devices.
CONS OF NATIVE APPS
- Native Apps tend to be a more expensive proposition. This is especially the case for those who would like their App to be compatible with multiple mobile devices and platforms.
- The cost of App maintenance and App updating is also higher for Native Apps, especially if this App supports more than one mobile platform.
- The process of getting the App approved at the App store can prove to be long and tedious and not always result in success.
- Users of different mobile devices may be using different versions of the App, which makes it difficult to maintain and offer support.
CONS OF WEB APPS
- Mobile Web Apps only have limited scope as far as accessing a mobile device’s features is concerned eg. some device’s hardware and native features.
- Users may sometimes find it difficult to discover a Web App, as it is not systematically listed in any of the App stores.
So when it's time for you to decide App v Web App, the simple truth is you can re-create the functionality of an app in a simple, mobile responsive website (we we like to call them Web Apps) which work across all devices, don't need updating, are a lot cheaper and are accessible without using (and paying) for a spot in the App stores. 85% of the time our customers find it's the best option. 15% of the time the dev guys are building an App.