Progressive Web App vs Native App: A Detailed Comparison

Published On: April 28, 2021
Last Updated: May 5, 2022
PWA vs Native App

The majority of businesses have understood the demand for mobile apps among users. They are developing high-quality native apps to attract new users and provide a best-in-class experience.

Apart from native apps, progressive web apps are gaining massive attention among businesses. It is mainly a combination of native apps and a website. Hence, various leading companies worldwide have openly accepted PWA and built progressive web apps.

If you are already running a business or a new-age entrepreneur, you might have questions like, should I choose PWA or Native app for my project?

Here, we will compare PWA vs Native apps based on the business and user’s perspective. Hence, you will get answers to the above questions.

Also, you will be able to choose the best amongst them for your next project at the end of this blog.

Before looking at the big picture, we will walk you through the basics of PWA and Native.

What is Progressive Web App (PWA)?

PWA is a kind of app developed using web technologies like HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. However, it feels and performs like a native app. It combines the best features of websites and a mobile app to provide a personalized experience to the users.

It offers an app-like experience whenever any user accesses PWA from mobile. Moreover, users can use a PWA from a web browser without installing it.

What is PWA

Google released PWA technology in 2015 with the main intention to boost conversion rates and increase engagement. Apart from this, progressive web apps have a single codebase, and they work on any device. Also, PWAs rank well in search engines because of the mobile-first indexing approach. Therefore, businesses and users like progressive web apps.

Various leading brands globally have developed progressive web apps and observed tremendous growth. Several well-known PWA examples include Flipkart, Pinterest, MakeMyTrip, Wego, AliExpress, etc.

What is a Native App?

A native app is a software application developed with a specific programming language; for a particular platform (Android or iOS).

These apps leverage capabilities of the hardware device to offer an enhanced user experience.

What is Native App

If you intend to create a native app for Android and iOS, you need to develop it separately. Hence, it will consume a lot of your time and money.

Some of the leading examples of native apps can be Spotify, Gmail, Coinbase, and WhatsApp.

After going through the basics, we will first compare Progressive Web App VS Native App considering the business perspective. Then, we will compare PWA vs Native from the user’s perspective.

So, let us start.

PWA vs Native App: Which is Better for Business?

Businesses and startups worldwide love to create PWAs and native apps to reach a wider audience and offer an exceptional experience.

Now the question arises, should you develop a PWA or native app for your business? Here we have a detailed comparison between PWAs and native apps considering various factors crucial from a business perspective.

Convenience in Distribution

In the case of a native app, you have to first develop a native app for a specific app store and then submit it to the relevant app store. Google play store and Apple app store are the most suitable options.

However, to ensure that your app gets published on these leading platforms, you need to follow that specific store’s guidelines. Moreover, you are required to wait to get approval from the respective app stores.

On the contrary, PWAs do not have a lengthy process of launching. You can quickly build and launch it into the market. Also, you can update the PWA instantly without waiting for any app store approval.

If you are in the initial stage, PWA is the best option. Here, users require a browser to access the PWA. These can be any browser like Chrome, Firefox, Edge, and Safari. Hence, you can reach a wider audience through a PWA and get feedback.

Development Cost

For developing native apps, you need to create separate versions for Android and iOS. Java & Kotlin are used to build Android apps, and Swift or Objective-C are used to develop iOS apps.

Therefore, you will require a separate team for building both apps.

Due to this, you need to invest a lot of time and money in developing a native app. Moreover, native app development cost depends on various factors, such as complexity, whom you hire, architecture, etc.

Besides this, you need to maintain different versions of the mobile apps as users will be using them. Therefore, native app costs might not be a feasible option for startups who want to launch the app quickly and get early feedback.

On the contrary, progressive web apps consist of a single codebase. And it will work across a vast number of devices.

When you create a PWA, you can configure it with tools like Google Lighthouse. According to the tool’s results, you can modify the web app and make it more relevant for the users.

From this, we can say that web app development cost is lower compared to native apps.

Cross-Platform Availability

If you are running an offline business and want to take it online, there is a possibility that your audience is present on both Android and iOS platforms.

In this case, you cannot develop an app for a single platform to reach your audience. Moreover, you will not be able to attract a wider audience with one platform.

You need to design and develop an app for Android and iOS platforms separately. Besides this, your app needs to provide best-in-class performance to the users. Hence, you need to invest a massive amount of time and other resources.

Talking about PWA, you need to make it once, and it performs well on the majority of the devices regardless of the platform it is on.

SEO & Discoverability

A PWA follows an SEO, which stands for search engine optimization. PWA is mainly a website, and it follows the standard SEO process similar to other websites on the Web. Due to this, it gets quickly indexed by popular search engines like Google and Bing.

However, to rank your progressive web app on search engines is a battle. You have to follow certain specific SEO principles to ensure that your PWA ranks well in search engines:

  • It should have an SEO structure like a website.
  • Make sure all of your web pages are crawlable and accessible through a particular URL.
  • Every page should mention a canonical URL with a canonical tag to avoid duplicate content.
  • A web app should be secure and work effectively in HTTPS.
  • A web app should load quickly.
  • PWA should have responsive web design and pass Google’s mobile-friendly test.
  • While enabling a PWA besides non-canonical AMP, integrate rel = “amphtml” tag.
  • Ensure that the content is similar for both the users and the bot.

When you consider a native app, you need to rank your app in a specific store. And this process is known as App Store Optimization (ASO).

Here are some aspects you need to focus on for ranking your native app in the specific store.

  • Integrate a proper meta title and meta description.
  • Add appropriate images and visuals into the native app.
  • Write a relevant description of the native app.
  • Ask users to rate your native app as it plays a vital role in ranking the app.

Hence, we can say that PWAs are more SEO-friendly than native apps.

PWA vs Native App: Which is Better for Users?

Your business will become successful when it reaches potential users. We can also say that users are the most crucial aspect when building a PWA or native app. Hence, it is essential to consider PWA vs native apps from the users’ perspective to make an appropriate decision.

Here we will compare PWA vs Native app as per the user’s perspective.

Download & Installation

The majority of mobile users love the ease of usage and convenience. They want a solution instantly. In native apps, the installation process is lengthy. Here, a user needs to search for a particular app in the respective store and then click on install.

After this, the user needs to provide the necessary permissions, and then only they can access the native app.

However, after using the native app for some time, the user uninstalls an app due to some common reasons like more notifications, advertisements, large size, etc.

In PWA, the user doesn’t need to install the web app; they can easily access it from the web browser on their smartphone or computer.

A PWA does not hold much storage space. Also, PWA doesn’t need any update as it runs the latest version every time.

Moreover, a user can add a home screen shortcut of the PWA and access it anytime. Hence, PWA is highly convenient compared to native apps.

Overall Performance

Performance is the essential factor for businesses to decide between native apps and progressive web apps. Now, we will look at PWA vs native app performance in detail.

If we compare PWA with a responsive or a mobile site, then the performance of PWA is significantly higher. At the core of any PWA, service workers are present. Service workers are nothing but the JavaScript files that ensure that scripts are running in the background and are separate from a web page.

The service workers ensure quick loading, offline access, push notifications, etc. Hence, you can access PWA in offline or weak network conditions when you add it to the home screen.

The only drawback of PWA is that it requires a browser to operate appropriately. Due to this, there might be a delay or more battery consumption.

In the case of native apps, they are built for a specific platform and compiled using the platform’s core programming languages & APIs.

The native apps can leverage the hardware and the device capabilities to offer a better experience to the users. Hence, native apps provide far better performance than progressive web apps.

Features & Functionalities

A native app can access the functionalities like Bluetooth, geofencing, inter-app communications, etc.

Talking about progressive web apps, they have gained massive popularity among businesses worldwide. However, they still cannot access all the device features like the native apps.

The reason is progressive web apps rely on Web APIs to access hardware features. Besides this, progressive web apps cannot deliver push notifications on iOS.

Offline Availability

PWAs can display the precached content in offline mode. It is possible because service workers fetch requests from the server for the user via JavaScript components.

If a user wants to access specific content that is not under the cached system, it is not viable. For example, the user can access the static pages in offline mode. However, a user cannot submit any details till the internet connection is fully available.

Talking about the native apps, they display the content and functionality at times when the user is not connected with the internet. It is possible because of the local data storage or the cloud data synchronization. Besides this, various native apps are built to perform well in offline mode.

Security

Security is the most important thing to protect users’ data in the tech-driven world.

While talking about security, native apps are more secure than the PWA. How?

Firstly, a native app is developed considering the built-in security measures of an application. Secondly, you can integrate various functionalities to increase security in a native app.

It can be a multi-factor authentication method where a user needs to enter two or more verification factors to access the application.

Besides this, certificate pinning can also be integrated into native apps to prevent man-in-the-middle (MiTM) attacks, confirm users from accessing trusted certificates, and secure HTTPS network traffic.

For publishing a native app, you need to comply with some security practices of a particular app store.

On the other side, PWA operates under the HTTPS protocol; hence, PWA blocks information revealing or altering.

Moreover, as PWA operates in a browser, the majority of the security is handled by the browser. Hence, it is as secure as a website.

However, PWAs are prone to various attacks such as dormant service workers, XSS, file upload, etc. Hence, we can say that PWA is not more secure than a native application.

PWA vs Native App: An Quick Overview

Factor PWA Native
Time to Market Quick Development Requires more time to build and deploy
Cross-Platform Availability Available Not available
Installation No need of any installation Download from the specific app stores
Feature Access Limited feature access Access all the hardware compatibilities and custom features
Offline Availability Pre-caching enables offline mode. However, there are limitations Offline mode is available
Push Notifications Not available for iOS platform Works well for all the platforms
Security HTTPS encryption Integrate security as per the specific platform(Android or iOS)
Updates Automatic updates Manual updates needs to be done by the user

By doing a quick analysis between PWA and Native, you can easily choose between PWA and the native app.

However, if you are still confused in choosing between the PWA and the native app, you can get in touch with our experts.

Guru TechnoLabs is a professional web and mobile app development company worldwide. Hence, we can understand your business well and help you choose the best between PWA and native for your business.

Progressive Web App or Native App: What Should You Choose?

After looking at PWA and Native apps from the business and user’s perspective, it’s time to choose the suitable one for your project. As an entrepreneur, you should look at the different scenarios when PWAs or Native apps should be chosen.

Later, select the best one amongst them by considering your current and the future goals of the business.

Choose PWA if

  • You want to launch a basic-level app for users. You can launch a PWA quickly and interact with users via push notifications.
  • You have a limited budget. PWA requires less time to build and launch.
  • You want to reach a wider audience. PWA functions well on smartphones, tablets, and other related devices.
  • You don’t want to waste time getting validation from the app stores.

Choose a Native App If

  • You want to establish a long-term brand image and credibility. Deploying apps on the leading app stores enhances reliability.
  • You desire to integrate some advanced features like geofencing, sensor detection, etc.
  • You want to provide push notifications to users on iOS.
  • Your goal is to provide enhanced security to the users.

Final Thoughts

Here we conclude the progressive web app vs native app comparison. Various leading companies worldwide have developed PWAs as well as native apps. Moreover, they are able to reach a broader audience and generate good revenue.

The selection between the PWAs and native apps should be done based on your goals and resources. If you want to launch an app quickly, then choose PWA. If your goal is to establish your brand and build trust among users, go with a native app.

By doing a quick analysis between PWA and Native, you can easily choose between PWA and the native app. However, if you are still confused about choosing between the PWA and the native app, you can contact our experts.

Guru TechnoLabs is a professional web and mobile app development company worldwide. We have developed some of the best PWAs and native apps for businesses & startups across the globe. Hence, we can understand your business well and help you choose the best between PWA and native for your business.

Frequently Asked Questions

Will PWA replace native apps?

PWAs will not replace the native apps according to the current scenario because a native app provides better performance, security, and many other benefits.

Is PWA the future?

Progressive Web App is the future for various businesses because it offers numerous features like accessibility, SEO, performance, etc. The leading app stores in the market, such as Google Play Store and Apple App Store, consist of millions of apps, and hence, businesses would find it hard to gain users and retain them for a long time. On the other side, PWA doesn’t require any installation and is compatible with different devices.

What are the advantages of a PWA over native apps?

There are certain advantages of PWA over native apps. Talking about users, they don’t have to install PWAs. For businesses, the development cost is less. Also, businesses don’t have to go through any validation process to update the app.

Why are native apps still the most widely used?

Native apps offer better performance, security, interactivity, scalability, stability, accessibility to hardware features, etc. These apps function well because they are developed for a specific platform. Moreover, they have access to specific APIs and components mainly made for various screen sizes and system versions. Due to this, native apps are still the most widely used apps.

Is PWA better than native apps?

PWA is better than the native apps in many ways, such as follows:

  • Compatibility across multiple devices
  • Optional installation
  • Low development cost
  • Users don’t have to carry out any updates
  • SEO-Friendly
Ravi Makhija
Ravi Makhija

An entrepreneur, an IT professional. Tech geek. Founder & CEO at Guru TechnoLabs - Globally Trusted Web & Mobile App Development Company. Loves writing about new technologies and the latest trends in IT field.

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