Key Differences Between a Native App Builder and a Web App Builder

Michaela Markley Picture

by Michaela Markley | Last Updated: Jun 16, 2020

Searching for the right type of app for your use case can be difficult, especially once there is a budget tied to that project. Maybe you have an app of your dreams but you know it just won’t work on the tight budget. Well, luckily how you build an app can help to determine the cost bracket you may be looking at. At a high-level view:  Native Mobile App = High Cost, Longer Time to Market Web App = Medium to Low Cost, Shorter Time to Market Progressive Web App (PWA) = Medium to Low Cost, Shorter Time to Market App Builder = Medium to Low Cost, Shorter Time to Market Let’s dive into these three items and look at their benefits and key differences among one another. App builders can be used to build native mobile apps or web apps but we will get into the cost associated with the software and what makes them a wonderful tool to use if you don’t have a development team and are on a tighter budget.  Native Mobile Apps Native mobile apps are what you most likely think of when you first hear the word app. Typically, you need to go to an app store (such as Apple’s App Store or Google Play) to download and install the app directly to your device. Most of these apps do not need an internet connection to use the app once it’s installed. The reason these apps are called native mobile apps is because they're built specifically for an operating system. (Think Android vs. iOS). These apps can then take full advantage of the device’s features because it is made specifically to do so. This could be certain gestures on the device, push notifications, ability to use the camera, etc.  Web Apps Web apps are apps that run behind URLs that require the user to be connected to the internet to access the web app. The apps can be used between operating systems and devices because they are not built specifically for iOS or Android. This makes them a great option because a  company can build the app once and have it work across all operating systems and devices.  Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) PWAs marry the best of both web apps and native mobile apps into a functionality-rich app that lives behind a URL. PWAs are able to use some of a mobile device’s native functionality (geolocation, push notifications, etc.) and also are able to be saved to your home screen at only a fraction of the storage space that native mobile apps require. While PWAs can function like native mobile apps they are stored behind a URL allowing them to rank for SEO, work across all devices and operating systems, and are secured behind HTTPS.  App Builders The types of apps discussed above (native mobile apps, web apps, and PWAs) can all be built using an app builder. A no code app builder is a great way to lower costs when developing an app. The foundational building blocks for an app are already built out with app builders. Most app building software is either low code or no code and allows you to build your app without developers. (Calling all citizen developers to be empowered!) Some software will even have a drag-and-drop interface to easily build your own app.  Native app builders can help you build iOS or Android-specific apps. You don’t have to find a specific android app builder or iOS app builder but you can find app builders like Good Barber or AppyPie that can help build either iOS or Android native apps through their app building software.  An open source no code app builder can help you build your app with technology that is free to use and doesn't belong to a corporate entity. You need to be careful using an open source project because they can lack functionality and security without any truly responsible for the platform's maintenance. A no code web app builder will help you build your next app web app that can be hosted behind a URL and be able to be used across all devices and operating systems. Budi Base and Microsoft Azure are two great places to start to look at possibly starting to build your web app.  Progressive Web App builders will help you bring together the best of native and web with the foundational blocks of your app already built out. Lumavate is a great example a PWA builder that enables you to easily build your app out as a PWA.  Most app builders are there to help you build your next app, whether it be native, web, or PWA, with a quicker time to market and at a lower cost. Understanding the differences behind the type of apps is going to help you make a decision on what app builder to go with.

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