Pros & Cons of Mobile Apps (aka Native Apps) vs Web Apps
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Pros & Cons of Mobile Apps (aka Native Apps) vs Web Apps

By Mainak Biswas February 07, 2012 - 2,241 views

Looking into the phenomenal growth of mobile browsing, businesses are shifting their focus to mobile web. Their overall web strategy is gradually leaning towards mobile web. However depending upon the business the mobile strategy will vary. For example a business related to selling products like Amazon or Ebay will have a different strategy then a business offering news to the readers. Whatever be the business, the bigger question while creating mobile strategy is whether to use open standards like HTML, CSS and JavaScript to build the Mobile site or build it as a native Mobile App for the device you are targeting. To start with both Mobile Web App and Native App have their pros and cons. So before you start building the application a thorough evaluation is essential.

Difference between Web Apps and Native Apps

Before we proceed, let’s understand what exactly is the difference between the 2 types.

Native Apps are applications specifically designed to run on a particular platform. The whole application is installed in the device and can be executed. They are usually dependent on mobile firmware as well as the Operating System. So an app designed for Android will work only on Android devices and not on an iPhone. It needs to be ported or adapted to iOS to be used in iPhone. These Native Apps are mostly obtained through a marketplace.

Web Apps are applications which are usually accessed through a web browser and the whole or part of it needs to be downloaded onto the device each time you access it. These are created using open web standard like HTML, CSS and JavaScript. These are usually platform independent. These web apps are loaded automatically in the mobile web browser through the use of sophisticated detection technology when the site is accessed through mobile.

The image below depicts how US smartphone users use Mobile App and Browser for various tasks.

Pros and Cons of Web Apps & Native Apps

Both Native and Web Apps have their pros and cons. A clear understanding of the benefits and demerit of each along with your mobile web strategy will help in choosing one over the other and if requires choosing the both.

Rich User Interface:
Native Apps seamlessly integrate into the device features and provide a rich user experience. They integrate with phone in such a way that gives the feel of built-in functionality of the device. The improvement is mobile web technology is helping the Web Apps to gradually go through a phenomenal change in user interface. But the Native Apps clearly win here.

Native Apps can be used to some extent even if there is no data connectivity however Web App requires connection to Internet to function. Native App is winner.

As Web Apps require HTML and JavaScript rendering they are comparatively slower as compared to similar Native Apps. Native App is winner.

The Native Apps are distributed through a marketplace like Android Market or iPhone Apps Store. And these are available subject to Approval. Even if an App is approved now, in future that may be rejected based upon the terms. This dependency of Native App for distribution is a hindrance for Enterprise to go for a Native App for their business application. On the other hand the web app can be accessed from any device without such restrictions. Web App is winner.

The updates to Native Apps happen through the market place where as the web app update is instant. The moment you make any changes in the web app users will be able to see the updated features instantly. Web App is winner.

Cost of development:
The most notable advantage of mobile web app is that you build it once and it will be available to all devices irrespective of the configuration and platform with few changes. Native Apps being platform dependent, considerable amount of money has to be spent to develop same App for different platform like Android, iOS, Windows 7 and Blackberry. Web App is a winner here.

Engagement and Branding:
Because of the stronger integration with the mobile platform Native Apps provide a better engagement. Also they help in creating a stronger branding for your business as there will be a dedicated icon of your brand on the mobile device which is used to launch the Native Application. Native App is a winner here.

For further elaborate learning on this Max Katz has created a table that shows various differences in various categories between Native App and mobile Web App.

Thanks to HTML5, CSS3 and jQuery framework like jQuery Mobile and Sencha Touch the gap between a Native App and Mobile Web App is gradually reducing. With few exceptions most of the native apps could be written into Web Apps and can provide almost similar experience. Another form of the App called Hybrid App is also seen now a days which is a web app placed inside a native wrapper. According to Jeff Haydn the Native App and Mobile web are not mutually exclusive and need to co-exist for some time.

Feel free to contact us at for our advice. We will be more than happy to help without any bias, as we have both capabilities and only suggest the right fit to our clients. You can also visit our mobile section.

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