PWA vs Native Apps: Which One to Choose in 2024?

mobile apps PWA vs Native Apps

Mobile responsiveness is the crucial lever to building applications in 2024 as more customers browse, view, and shop from their smartphones. However, the debate over PWAs vs. native apps continues among developers and organizations. 

Due to the massive innovations through progressive web app development services, these types of applications offer a responsive design that works well across different devices and platforms and provides a consistent user experience similar to native apps. Whereas the native applications are known for their appealing layouts, intuitive interfaces, and performance, which offer a polished user experience with deep device integration.

Native apps are considered an essential part of the mobile app ecosystem, but PWA has become more pronounced in the software industry. 

Hence, this blog will differentiate between PWA and native apps on various parameters to discover which application methodology will work best in 2024.  But first, let’s understand the concepts of both. 

A native app is a mobile app developed specifically for a smartphone’s operating system and its underlying hardware. These apps are developed for a particular device and its OS and can be distributed respectively through Google Play Store, Apple App Store, and Amazon App Store and are conventionally installed on smartphones.

PWAs, or progressive web apps, are websites designed to function in similar ways as native apps. However, a PWA runs from a browser and can be ‘installed’ on phones running the latest OS versions. It provides the user with a mobile app-like experience.  Unlike a native app, a PWA is not platform-dependent, which means any smartphone and OS can run a PWA from its browsers. 

Key differentiators between PWA and Native apps

For Businesses

  • Time to Market

PWAs are comparatively much faster to develop as they run on a single codebase. This allows for easier and faster development compared to building separate versions for different platforms. 

However, the native apps require more time to develop as they involve creating separate versions for different platforms using platform-specific languages like Swift, Objective-C, Java, and Kotlin. Additionally, the approval process from different app stores may take longer than anticipated.

  • Cross-Platform Availability

PWAs are available across platforms and can run on multiple platforms and devices from a single codebase. They are being built to be responsive, making it easy (and fast) to connect with users.

However, native apps don’t support cross-platform availability. These apps are optimized for the features and functionalities of the intended platform, offering a seamless user experience tailored to that specific operating system. 

  • Cost of Development

Native apps are costly to develop because organizations need to develop both versions of the app separately if they want to have native features. For example- Java and Kotline are used for Android native app development, whereas Objective-C/Swift is used for iOS native app development. Having two different development tech stacks means more team members, resulting in higher development costs. 

On the other hand, developing a PWA is simpler and cheaper, comparatively, because it’s a web app built to work on any device, regardless of the platform.

For Users

  • Features and Functionality

A native app supports features that usually cannot be delivered by PWA, such as:

  • Geofencing
  • NFC mobile payments
  • Cross-app features
  • Smart sensor usage

In addition, push notifications cannot be delivered via a Progressive web app on iOS; they require a native app.

  • Performance

PWAs have good loading and overall performance but use a third-party web browser, which means PWA is confined to the performance capabilities of the browser it runs on.

However, a native application integrates seamlessly into the smartphone as soon as it is installed; it quickly taps into the smartphone’s processing capability. This makes native apps more powerful in performance, especially due to the platform-oriented code.

  • Offline Availability

Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) support offline compatibility using service workers and caching technologies. Users can still view the content, ensuring an uninterrupted user experience, but you can’t take the next step. 

For example, users can view static pages in the app but not submit a form until the app is reconnected.

However, Native apps will provide a consistent experience even if the user is not online 24×7, as core software components reside within the device. Native apps can run offline and utilize a device’s built-in features and hardware, such as the camera, GPS, and other sensors.

Final Words

Both native and PWA have advantages and disadvantages; when choosing between them, ensure that you consider the aspects each option excels and how they fit into your application’s vision.

However, seeing the market dynamics, a PWA is the better choice for companies planning to release an app in the shortest time. PWA development is faster and allows for easier feedback from the market before moving forward. 
Partnering with a progressive web app development company can provide an edge to app development efforts as they can co-innovate with you and guide you through the end-to-end development process.