What is Native App vs. Web App
Everything you should know about the differences between these popular mobile marketing technologies
Last Updated: Nov 11, 2021
Mobile Web App
There are few things as influential today as the simple mobile web app. In 2017 alone, consumers downloaded 178 billion apps. Today, people are more frequently using their phones to browse the internet, talk to other people, complete their work, and generally live their daily lives. A mobile web application is an application that is accessible through the web rather than being downloaded. Some of the most famous mobile web app examples include big brands such as Starbucks and Pinterest.
But there's always a question about web app vs native app performance. Native apps are downloaded directly to devices and consequently can launch immediately. If all of the data for a native app is on the phone or tablet, it will be much faster. Yet when you look at mobile app vs mobile website statistics, you'll see that people are more likely to use websites. This is because they don't require a download.
For mobile users, web apps are more appealing. But native apps still have a lot of great features like notifications. This has led to rise of the Progressive Web App (PWA). A Progressive Web App doesn't need to be downloaded and still feels like a web app, but it has features like push notifications, and the ability to install directly to a desktop. A good Progressive Web App example is the above-mentioned Starbucks, which has a web app, Progressive Web App, and native application. You can find more examples of PWAs here.
Before you start looking up a Progressive Web App tutorial, you should know that there are ways to create a Progressive Web App without any programming knowledge at all, thanks to Lumavate. Lumavate is a digital experience platform that is built for marketers. Marketers are able to create robust Progressive Web Apps without a single line of code.
Want to learn more about the mobile-first mindset? Check out this episode of Mobile Matters, with Stephanie Cox, President at Lumavate, and Patrick Flanagan, SVP of Digital Marketing at Simon Property Group.
Difference Between Website and Web Application
What's the difference between websites and web applications? In actuality, they run on the exact same technology. The difference lies in the way that users interact with and perceive it. Websites are primarily designed to display content. They're a large archive of content, even if they're an eCommerce storefront. Users browse at will. An application, on the other hand, is an interactive device generally meant to fulfill some sort of task. A cooking blog is a website. A meal planner platform is a web app.
Web apps have some advantages over websites. They're more narrow in focus, are designed to engage the user, and generally provide real value to the user. But there are disadvantages, too. User experience is very important for an app.
There are also different types of apps. Mobile native apps are downloadable programs that are placed on the hard drive of a mobile device. Web apps are accessed through the internet but often have nearly identical functionality. Web apps are easier to access and easier to maintain because they can be along the same channel as a website. But mobile native apps also do have some advantages; they can be faster, and they live on the customer's device.
The difference between a web app and native app is larger than the difference between website and web application platforms. And when you look at mobile app vs website statistics, you'll likely see more traffic on websites. Apps vs websites usage shows that users don't want to download apps, they want them immediately accessible.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of apps? Compared with websites, a native website is simply going to be easier to access. It's an issue with web application vs desktop application pros and cons.
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Web App Examples
Now that we know why apps are important, let's take a look at some popular web app examples. The best examples of web apps often come from the largest companies. Consider the web apps of a company such as Google. Google has native apps, web apps, and PWAs. Having one doesn't preclude having the other.
When it comes to a web app vs mobile app, or a web app vs website, it all depends on how the user is going to interact with it. A web app is going to be easy to access on the fly and fast, but it won't have as many features as a native mobile app. A native mobile app is going to have more robust features (though PWA access is growing every day), but it needs to be downloaded and updated regularly, and it has to be separately maintained. Websites and web apps have quite a lot in common, but web apps tend to be more focused on the user experience.
The best part about web apps may be that users don't have to go through an app store. Not only does that encourage users to use the app, but it also means that the apps and their patches don't have to filter through multiple web app stores. Not only is that time-consuming, but it can become expensive and otherwise difficult to manage.
Take a look at the Starbucks PWA and Starbucks native app. The Starbucks PWA is actually faster than the native app. The PWA is designed to encourage customers to interact with Starbucks and to make a purchase in a seamless user experience. Take a look at some of the results Starbucks saw with their PWA.
What Is a Native App?
We noted that a native app and web app is very different. But what exactly is a native app? A native app is essentially a local program that is run on a device such as a mobile phone or a tablet. This is like an application downloaded to a computer. Today, many apps are cloud-based, so they're run through the web. But a native app is going to operate offline as well as online, and native app examples may also have PWA counterparts, like Starbucks.
Native apps need to be built around specific operating systems. Some of them are designed for iOS and some for Android. That also means multiple platforms have to be supported, and that not all features will work on each platform individually. Native apps also have to be downloaded by the user, and not all users want to download these apps — especially if they think they won't use it in the future.
Each app deployed on Lumavate is a PWA. Progressive Web Apps operate with many of the same features as a native app, but they don't need to be downloaded. They are universal and can be used on virtually any platform. Even better, they can be designed and developed with no coding knowledge at all.
Progressive Web Apps are becoming more popular than native apps. Even though they don't have to be downloaded, they can still be installed on a home screen, and they can still use push notifications. Thus, they have the best features of native apps without the required download. For more information about Lumavate and the benefits of Progressive Web Apps, try building a PWA yourself!
Difference Between App Developer and Web Developer?
What's the difference between an app developer and a web app developer? There are quite a few. A native app may be developed by multiple developers because there are different languages that they need to code in and multiple operating systems. Native app developers are going to operate in specific languages and specialize in different platforms. That also means that native app developers are often in extreme demand.
Web developers tend to be a little more flexible. Many web developers are "full stack" in that they work with both back ends and front ends. A web developer generally can create an app on their own from start to finish. Because web apps are platform-independent, web developers are going to be able to create web apps with greater agility.
Both native and web app developers are going to be expensive. Not only do they need to develop an app to begin with, but they also have to support that app moving forward.
Lumavate frees companies up from having to use any type of developer. While a developer can still help with web apps and web builders, Lumavate is an entirely no code platform that empowers business users to build apps of any kind without getting a developer involved!
Companies wanting to develop a Progressive Web App should be looking at Progressive Web App developers. Only those who want to create iOS and Android native web apps are going to need to talk to mobile developers, and they may need to talk to multiple mobile developers because of the differences between platforms. Regardless, both app developers and Progressive Web App developers are going to be experts in creating mobile user experiences.
Difference Between Mobile Application and Desktop Application
Let's take a look at some important differences. What's the difference between mobile application and desktop application? Just the platform. A mobile application is made to run on a mobile device, such as a phone or a tablet. These tend to have more simplistic environments than desktop environments, which include laptops and desktop PCs.
The difference between mobile application and web application testing lies in the platform itself. A mobile application can be run on a multitude of different operating systems and environments, including a whole spectrum of iOS and Android versions. It has to be tested for each one. A web application uses web standards through a browser. It only has to be tested up to those web standards.
Additionally, there's the difference between web application and mobile application. A mobile application is traditionally going to be a native application a PwA that is accessed directly to the device, whereas a web application is only used through the browser. And there's the difference between a web application and a website, which can be somewhat nebulous. A web application is really a focused, interactive version of a website.
Understanding the differences between web applications, desktop applications, native applications, and PWAs is critical. In general, it's all about user experience and how flexible and adaptable each platform is. Quality assurance is going to be essential, especially for mobile application testing and desktop application testing, where it needs to be ensured that the app can work on all devices accurately.
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What Is a Native App vs. Web App?
So, what is a native app vs. web app? A native app is going to be made for iOS or Android, whereas a web app can be used on any platform. A native app, therefore, takes a lot more time to develop than a web app.
Companies may prefer native apps because native apps are installed directly on devices, therefore making it so that users are constantly reminded of the application. Native apps can also be faster if everything is downloaded locally. But ask yourself whether Facebook is native or hybrid app and you'll receive a confusing answer, because they're both. Many companies launch both to take the benefits of both.
Web apps suffer from the fact that they cannot be accessed offline, and they may be sluggish if they're trying to download all of their content. Web apps act like mobile apps but are essentially just web pages.
So the difference between native app and web app is really one of platform, and the native app vs web app pros and cons break down to the fact that native apps require more maintenance and more of a "buy in" from the audience.
A hybrid app is an app that has features that are both native and web app. Some hybrid app examples will overlap the examples of a PWA. But are hybrid apps good? Hybrid apps can be good or bad depending on how they're implemented. HTML5 vs native apps pros and cons are going to be very similar to PWA vs native app pros and cons.
When hybrid apps are implemented properly, the functionalities can include both native and web applications. Apps are able to take advantage of native environmental features while still having the flexibility of a web app.
Is Facebook a hybrid app? It is. It uses things like push notifications and can be installed directly onto a desktop, but it's still a web app. Notably, like many big companies, Facebook has a native app, web app, and also a website. Most companies have all these options so that users and pick and choose what they'd like. Whatsapp can also be considered either a native or hybrid app. But the question isn't really whether Whatsapp is native or hybrid app, but rather how each suits Whatsapp and what the benefits have been for either.
Native App vs. Hybrid App
What's the key differences between a native app vs hybrid app? A native app is going to be solely on the device, though it may download content from online. A native app will be installed on the device, tailored to the operating system, and will utilize the features of that system. Meanwhile, in a native vs hybrid app, a hybrid app will still be operating through the internet.
Companies today can find app builders all around to create their apps, but first they need to understand their key objectives, and they need to know which type of app they want to develop.
Let's take a look at a fast native vs hybrid app comparison. The native app is going to be downloaded by the user for the specific platform they're using and then is going to be used either online or offline, unless it's an online-only app. The hybrid app can be used either by the home screen or just directly through the internet. How to identify app is native or hybrid? First, see if a download is required.
The difference between native and hybrid app testing is vast, as native apps have to be tested on multiple platforms and hybrid apps can be tested only once. For a difference between native and hybrid app with example, consider Starbucks. Starbucks has a native app on iOS and Android so it has to be tested on both. But Starbucks also has a PWA that can be used from anywhere on anything. So, when it comes to hybrid vs native app 2019, and hybrid vs native apps pros and cons, it really depends on what user experience you are wanting to deliver. The only way that hybrid vs native app advantages falls in favor of native apps is when certain functionality, like Bluetooth, is required from the app.
React Native vs Hybrid App
What is React Native? React Native is a framework for building native apps, using React. An open source application manager, React can be used to create Android, iOS, Web and Universal Windows Platform apps. A React Native hybrid app can be achieved, as can a cross-platform solution. Facebook Ads Manager, Airbnb, and Bloomberg are all examples of a React app. But while a hybrid app could be achieved, a truly Progressive Web App cannot be developed in React Native. React Native is primarily designed for building cross-platform native applications; mobile apps that are ported out to different platforms.
There's a tremendous competitive advantage for an app encompassing both web and native functionalities. Lumavate’s own PWA builder has a free subscription plan that you can get started on right away. Without a system like Lumavate, business owners need to pay not only to initially develop their solution, but also to maintain that solution later on.
Native App vs. Web App vs. Hybrid
Let's really take a deep dive into native apps, web apps, hybrid apps, and PWAs. What will be your mobile champion? The difference between native app and web app and hybrid app solutions encapsulates many things, but let's first consider it from the consumer point of view.
Native apps need to be installed. Web apps don't. But web apps aren't persistently on a device the way hybrid apps/PWAs are. Native apps, web apps, and hybrid apps will all have very similar functionality.
On the business side of view, a native app vs web app vs hybrid comes down to two things: time and cost. In terms of time, it takes longer to develop a native app, because there are multiple platforms. Building a web app may take less time, and a PWA with a no code solution will take even less time altogether. In terms of cost, a native app requires a developer, sometimes multiple developers. Web apps can be created from templates or bootstraps, but so can hybrid solutions.
Lumavate enables everyone to build PWAs in a matter of hours. Give it a try today!
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