Developing a mobile app, as you are well aware, involves elaborate planning and several processes to come together to form a harmonious whole. It all starts with an app idea, then goes on to planning, app design, app development, testing and finally, deployment of the app to the intended mobile device or devices. However, there is one thing you need to decide even before going through the above-mentioned stages of app development. You will have to decide the exact way in which you want to create and deploy your app. Here, you have two options to choose from - you can develop either a native app or a Web app.
What are native and Web apps and how are they different from each other? Which alternative would be better for you? Here is a comparison between native apps and Web apps.
Native Apps vs. Mobile Apps
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 marketplace, such as the Apple App Store, the Google Play store and so on. An example of a native app is the Camera+ app for Apple’s iOS devices.
A Web App, on the other hand, are basically Internet-enabled apps that are accessible via the mobile device’s Web browser. They need not be downloaded onto the user’s mobile device in order to be accessed. The Safari browser is a good example of a mobile Web app.
In order to know which type of app is better suited to your needs, you need to compare each one of them. Here is a quick comparison between native apps and Web apps:
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. Some companies develop both native and Web apps, so as to widen the reach of their apps, while also provide a good overall user experience.
App Development Process
The app development process of these two types of apps is what distinguishes them from each other.
Each mobile platform that the native app is developed for, stipulates its own unique development process. In the case of Web apps running on a mobile device’s Web browser, the problem that arises is that each of these mobile devices have unique features and come with their unique problems as well.
Each mobile platform offers the developer its own standardized SDK, development tools and other user interface elements, which they can use to develop their native app with relative ease. In the case of Web apps, though, there is no such standardization and the developer has no access to SDKs or tools of any sort.
Of course, there are several tools and frameworks available to the developer, using which they can deploy apps to multiple mobile platforms and Web browsers.
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.
Making Money on Apps
App monetization with native apps can be tricky, since certain mobile device manufacturers may lay restrictions on integrating services with certain mobile ad platforms and networks. Conversely, Web apps enable you to monetize apps by way of advertisements, charging membership fees and so on. However, while the app store takes care of your revenue and commissions in the case of native app, you need to setup your own payment system in case of a Web app.
Native apps are more expensive to develop. However, they are faster and more efficient, as they work in tandem with the mobile device they are developed for. Also, they are assured of quality, as users can access them only via app stores online.
Web apps may result in higher costs of maintenance across multiple mobile platforms. Also, there is no specific regulatory authority to control quality standards of these apps. The Apple App Store, though, features a listing of Apple’s Web apps.
Consider all the above-mentioned aspects before deciding whether you want to develop a native app or a Web app. In case your budget permits you to, you may also choose to develop both the types of apps for your business.