To be, or not to be: Web or Native
25 Oct 2017

To be, or not to be: Web or Native

When you think about an app, you probably don’t think much of how it runs. This is normal, because really, you just want it to work. However, this is an essential question to ask yourself when deciding to make a mobile app. Why, you ask? Depending on the app, the very functionality can be deterred or even not possible by choosing the wrong platform. Let’s see how:

What is a Native Mobile App?

When we refer to a “native” app, we’re referring to the operating system that the phone or tablet runs on. A native app runs purely off of the native functionality built into the phone, and is specific to the platform that it was designed for (be it iOS™ or Android). You can’t run an iOS™ app on an Android phone, which is the biggest downfalls of a native app. In order to run the same application on another operating system, in theory, a new app has to be built to run off of the other operating system’s functionality. This leaves you with 2 apps being developed for the same purpose.

Pros of Native:

  • Functionality: Native apps have full support of the phone or tablet’s software and hardware functions.
  • Better UX: In general, native apps can more easily be tailored to feel natural to the user of the phone or tablet.

Cons of Native:

  • Expense: Because native apps generally required more time to develop, their prices tend to be higher than web — especially when you’re going cross-platform.
  • Updates: With a cross-platform app, you have to update 2 or more apps. These updates also must be applied by the user.

What is a Web Mobile App?

Whereas native apps are built to run off of the built in device environment, a web-app runs much like this website – by the internet. Web-apps can both be accessed through a web browser (including a desktop or laptop), and through an app downloaded to a users device. Web-apps are incredibly effective, secure programs that require much less time and maintenance. While lacking the ability to effectively access most hardware and software functions of a device, a web-app is ideal for those who look to cross 2 or more platforms.

Pros of Web:

  • Accessibility: Web apps can be accessed through a downloaded app, on a mobile web browser, and on a desktop / laptop browser.
  • Expense: Because this app is only developed once for every platform, the time to make these types of apps can be exuberantly lower.
  • Updates: Even if your user downloads the web app to their device, every update is delivered across every platform instantly without recurrent downloads.

Cons of Web:

  • Native Functions: If your app is centered on the ability to access the phones camera, or sensors in real-time a web app will not be for you.
  • Downtime: Much like a website, if your web app host goes down, your app will not be accessible.

Which should I choose?

Our verdict: It depends. If accessing a devices camera, sensors, microphone, or other proprietary functions is essential to your app, you might want to consider native first. However, if you want a cross-platform application that keeps your costs down, web might be for you. If you’d like to know more about which platform you should use, get in contact with one of our developers. They’ll give you the knowledge for your specific circumstance.

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Kevin Heasley

Kevin is the Lead Developer at Citadel, overseeing all software development projects. With many years of experience and counting, Kevin has received awards for his works in the field of software development.

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