PWA vs. Native vs. Hybrid
Everything you need to know about the different technologies before your next digital experience
Last Updated: Nov 11, 2021
PWA vs. Native vs. Hybrid
There are many different types of apps available on the market today, it is no longer just native mobile apps. Now you can build web apps, hybrid apps, and Progressive Web Apps (PWAs). All of these apps have their own pros and cons and work best for different digital experiences. Let’s break down the differences between PWA vs. Native vs. Hybrid apps.
Native vs Web vs Hybrid
When it comes to the spectrum of apps, native mobile apps and web apps are basically on opposite ends of the spectrum. Native mobile apps are the apps you are probably most familiar with. You download them from the home screen onto your phone and they are compatible with the hardware of your phone. This means that they have a wide range of functionality, but also that they take up a lot of space. Web apps on the other hand are extremely lightweight, and basically a more sophisticated web page. Hybrid apps are a combination of native and web apps. They are deployed in a native container, but also use web elements within the app.
Native App vs Web App vs Progressive Web App
Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) are another app option. Like hybrid apps, PWAs fall in between native apps and web apps. When comparing Progressive Web Apps vs native mobile apps, the main difference is how the app is hosted. PWAs look and function like a native mobile app, but they are hosted entirely through the web. This makes them a lightweight version of a native mobile app, and also takes away the need to download a PWA.
PWA vs Native Pros and Cons
There are pros and cons to both PWAs and native apps. Some of the pros of a PWA are that they use less data, they don’t have to be downloaded which eliminates barriers for users, they can work offline, and they are much easier to build because they work across all operating systems and form factors. On the other hand, a pro of native apps is that they can take advantage of Bluetooth technology.
Another pro of PWAs is that they have been constantly improving their technology. When you look at PWA vs Native 2019, 2020, and 2021, you will see the improvements that have been made. These advancements in technology have left many people wondering “will PWA replace native apps?”. While there are some use cases where native apps are the best options, we are seeing trends leading to the use of more PWAs over native mobile apps. PWAs have already taken over some industries, and major brands like Starbucks, Pinterest, and Amazon have all adopted PWAs. For more information, listen to this podcast episode on the future of mobile.
Progressive Web App
Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) are similar to both mobile websites and native apps. PWAs are hosted on the web and easily accessed via a URL, but they also can save to your home screen similar to a native app. And the best part is, these apps can be built by anyone who uses the Lumavate platform. Lumavate is a software company that enables marketers to build PWAs in a matter of hours! So instead of looking for the best mobile app developers in the world or choosing a cheap app developer, simply using the Lumavate platform can be the only solution you need!
When it comes to the technology behind PWAs, there are multiple Progressive Web App Frameworks that can be used to build a PWA. A PWA framework is essentially the tools and code you will use to build a PWA. Some examples are React Progressive Web App, Angular Progressive Web App and Python Progressive Web App. A huge benefit to PWAs is that when building you don’t have to worry about PWA Android vs. iOS operating systems because a PWA can work across both. So instead of building a Progressive Web App iOS and Progressive Web App Android, you can just build one app that will work across both and will also work across all devices. This saves both time and money during the building process.
While building an app may sound intimidating, PWA technology makes it easy because you have the option to use a no code or low code app builder. These are platforms that have already done the coding for you, so you can simply just go into the platform, drag and drop app elements onto the app screen, and build your app in real time rather than having to code it yourself. This makes the app building process so easy, you could build an app in a matter of hours. Plus, the best app builders offer a Progressive Web App tutorial, and also resources to help you better understand PWAs. For example, Lumavate offers multiple State of PWA reports that will give you a snapshot of Progressive Web Apps 2019, 2020, and 2021, and give updates on what features PWAs possess like iOS PWA push notifications 2019 vs. 2020.
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What is a native app? The simplest explanation is to say that these apps are developed in the native environment designated by the operating system publisher. For Android that would be Java. Google also has a Native Android Kit that tries to optimize Java development, but it isn’t widely promoted.
A native mobile app for iOS will be developed using Swift. Apple created the language to streamline app development, and it largely works. On average, Apple apps are created faster and generate revenue sooner than their Android counterparts.
The big takeaway is that Java and Swift are not interchangeable. The primary disadvantages of native app development are that they require more time and money if you want to reach every audience.
A list of native apps would be incomplete without including the most famous native app examples: Google Maps and Facebook. Facebook went mobile long before hybrid and universal systems had really been explored, and the difficulties of creating a working iOS version of Google Maps still craft one of the most important stories in the short history of app development.
Hybrid App Examples
Before Progressive Web Apps came into their dominant state, hybrid apps provided a means to publish on both major app stores with a little less work. While web apps run everything from the server and merely stream the information to the end user, hybrid apps utilize hardware resources on the device for rendering. In simpler language, hybrid apps function somewhere in between PWAs and native apps.
When thinking “how do hybrid apps work” it helps to look at how they differ from a native mobile app. A key difference is that a hybrid mobile app focuses on universal languages (like HTML) to help you spend less time working in proprietary systems. Comparing a native app vs web app vs hybrid, the web app requires the least amount of development work, and the native requires the most.A few hybrid app examples would include Gmail.
Web App Examples
Web apps are conceptually similar to PWAs. In fact, two words are in common between the two delivery methods. Basically, web apps are simpler than PWAs. The web has rapidly progressed over time, which has led to the birth of web apps which are essentially a fancier web page. These apps are delivered across web browsers. This still gives them a universal component to the delivery, and they’re easier to distribute across platforms.
In order to really understand the web app vs mobile app discussion, we first have to answer, what is a mobile app? A mobile app is designed to run utilizing the hardware on a mobile device. The main difference between web applications and mobile applications is where the work is done. With a web application, a server does the rendering and simply sends results to the device. A mobile application does the rendering on the device itself.
Likewise, the difference between a native app and web app should be more clear. A native app is a mobile app that was designed specifically for the operating system in use. Web apps have been around for a long time, and some of the best examples of web apps are Google Docs and Netflix. Another key difference between native and web is the development process. Mobile web application development is much simpler than native app development, and with web apps you don’t have to deal with the hassle of an app store. Here is a list of more mobile web app examples and examples of what web apps can do.
If you want to better understand the difference between a web app and a PWA or mobile site and mobile web application development, this interview will help.
Native vs. Hybrid App Comparison
Given the similarities between native and hybrid apps, it may be hard to know how to identify app is native or hybrid. Keep reading to learn more about the difference between native and hybrid apps and how to check if app is native or hybrid iOS.
A native app is an app that is built with a specific programming language. These apps are built to only be compatible with one operating system, which essentially makes them “native” to that device. These apps are built for either Android or iOS devices.
Hybrid apps work by building one app to work on one operating system, then adding a few tweaks to make it work on another platform. These apps are constructed using special hybrid app languages, which gives them the opportunity to quickly make adjustments so the app can work on other platforms. Some of the notable hybrid app examples 2018 had to offer included Marketwatch, Untapped, and Tripline.
How to Identify if App is Native or Hybrid
When discussing the differences in apps, it’s important to consider how these apps are tested. Keep reading to learn about the differences between native and hybrid app testing, and we’ll also provide the difference between native and hybrid app with example. Native apps are built differently than hybrid apps. That being said, a variety of tests need to be done. For native testing, a lot of the tests will be focused on how the app integrates with the mobile device it was built for. For hybrid testing, the primary focus will be on how the apps perform on various mobile platforms and if this cross-compatibility poses any issues.
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