Feb 9, 2023
Native app vs. web app
The decision as to which type of application is more suitable for designing a new app is often made at the very beginning of the project and is particularly critical for the success of the project. Whether a development should be implemented web-based or native depends on many different factors, and the advantages and disadvantages of the two variants should be carefully weighed in the decision-making process.
What is the difference between native apps and web apps?
Native apps are installed on the operating system of the computer on which they are used. Therefore, they do not necessarily need to be hosted on a server. Web apps are typically accessed through a browser such as Chrome, Firefox, or Safari. Therefore, there is no need to install them separately. The application is located on a server and is thus transferred to the user's own PC. Therefore, the web application also has several advantages over the native application.
Advantages of web applications
Access to the webapp is possible at any time, no matter where and when, as long as there is an internet connection. It doesn't matter which device and operating system is being used. In contrast, native apps must be installed on every computer, tablet and cell phone on which they are to be used. Access is therefore more complicated. In maintenance, there is also an advantage for web apps for this reason.
Another advantage of web apps is that they are available without download. This means that users can access the application immediately without having to spend time and memory on installation. Web apps are also more compatible, as they run on any device and any operating system, as long as an up-to-date browser is used. Since the app works with Internet access, it can execute user requests on any device. This way, the user:s can switch systems without any problems. Thus, it is easy to close the application on the computer and then open it on the cell phone without losing current progress.
Disadvantages of web applications
As the name suggests, web applications take place on the web. Therefore, a working Internet connection is absolutely necessary to use them. The user experience can suffer if the internet connection is slow.
Since they run in a browser and don't need to be installed, they also can't access the hardware from the device, Bluetooth, files, etc., well. Thus, compatibility is much worse than with a natively developed application.
Advantages of native apps
Because natively developed apps do not rely on Internet access, they can be used offline. This is especially important when traveling in areas where the internet connection is not reliable.
Unlike web apps, native apps must be specifically installed on each computer, phone, and tablet on which they will be used, and may not be able to be used on all devices and operating systems. However, because they must be customized to fit the hardware exactly, they also run more smoothly and can score with faster response times.
Native apps usually have a wider range of functions and enable higher performance because they can fully utilize the resources of the end device. Native apps can also access hardware components. Since the application is customized to the operating system, the user experience is usually better than with a web-based app.
Disadvantages of native apps
Customized development on hardware is an advantage, but it can also turn out to be a disadvantage. Customization leads to hardware dependency. Since native applications are installed on individual computers, the:user:in must also always have it with him. It is just only available offline and access is not possible locally from another device.
The development as well as maintenance costs for a native app are higher in comparison, because the application has to be developed individually for each operating system. Thus, the development effort increases and the costs rise. The same applies to maintenance.
In principle, the decision in favor of or against a web app or a native app, depends heavily on the use case. If an app with high demands on user experience and performance is to be implemented, and if hardware components of the end device such as the camera are to be used, the development of a native app is recommended. Web apps, on the other hand, work on all devices and for all users. No simultaneous development of multiple apps is necessary. This means that a wider range of users can be reached at lower cost.