PWA vs Native App: Which is Better Option In 2022?

Published On: April 28, 2021
Last Updated: September 21, 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 various essential factors. 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 main difference between a PWA and a native app.

What is the main difference between PWAs and Native Apps?

Progressive web apps are kind of apps developed using web technologies like HTML, CSS, and JavaScript and run inside a web browser on any device. In comparison, native apps are software applications developed using a specific programming language for a particular platform (Android or iOS).

After understanding the main difference, we will provide you with a quick comparison between PWA and native apps.

PWA vs Native App: A Quick Comparison

Here, we would have a quick comparison of PWA vs native apps.

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

After going through the quick comparison between PWAs and Native apps, let us compare PWA vs Native app in detail.

PWA vs Native App: A Detailed Comparison

Here we have a detailed comparison between PWAs and native apps, considering various factors crucial from a business & user perspective.

So, let’s start.

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 a PWA, launch it, and it runs on various devices. Users can access the PWA via a browser and a URL on any device. These can be any browser like Chrome, Firefox, Edge, and Safari. 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

The cost of developing a native app is higher as you need to create separate versions for Android and iOS. Moreover, it will consume a lot of time & effort. 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 to build both apps.

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 different Android & iOS versions. 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 cost is substantially lower than native apps. The main reason is that it requires a single codebase to create PWA that works across many 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 the web app development cost is lower than 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.

In the case of a native app, you need to design & 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 various devices regardless of the platform it is on.

SEO & Discoverability

A PWA follows SEO, which stands for search engine optimization. PWA is mainly a website following 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, ranking 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 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 a 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.

In the case of 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.

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.

Want to create a high-performance native app? We have prepared a guide to build a robust native app for Android & iOS.

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.

Hence, we can say that PWAs have less features & functionalities compared to native apps.

Offline Availability

PWAs can only 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 native apps, they display the content and functionality even when the user is not using 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.

How to keep your PWA secure?

To keep your PWA secure, follow the best web app security practices. We have listed these practices in our guide.

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.

PWA or Native App: what you should build?

Let us know your project needs. We will recommend the best option based on your budget & business goals.

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

Ravi Makhija is an entrepreneur, an IT professional, tech geek, founder & CEO at Guru TechnoLabs - Globally Trusted Web & Mobile App Development Company. He loves writing about new technologies and the latest trends in the IT field.