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Differences between native and web apps

Are you looking to develop a mobile application for your business but aren't sure whether to choose a native mobile app or a progressive web app? In this article, we explore the advantages and disadvantages of both approaches, helping you make an informed decision for your business needs. Read on to learn about the differences between native mobile apps and progressive web apps and discover which one is right for you.

Portrait image of the author Max Vorhauer

In today's digital age, mobile applications have become a vital component of many businesses, allowing them to engage with their customers and provide personalized experiences. However, with the rise of progressive web apps (PWAs), businesses are now presented with another option to deliver their services to their customers.

In this article, we will explore the differences between native mobile apps and progressive web apps, highlighting the advantages and disadvantages of each approach.

Native Mobile Apps

Native mobile apps are applications built specifically for a particular mobile operating system, such as iOS or Android. They are developed using the specific software development kits (SDKs) and programming languages provided by the operating system vendor. As a result, these apps can take advantage of the hardware and software features of the device, delivering a seamless user experience.

Advantages of Native Mobile Apps

  • High Performance: Native mobile apps can leverage the native features and hardware of the device, delivering a high-performance experience for users.
  • Better User Experience: Native mobile apps can offer a better user experience, as they can take advantage of the design principles and features specific to each operating system.
  • Access to Device Features: Native mobile apps can access device features such as camera, GPS, and accelerometer, providing more opportunities for creating engaging user experiences.

Disadvantages of Native Mobile Apps

  • Higher Development Costs: Building native mobile apps require specialized skills, making the development process more expensive.
  • App Store Approval: Native mobile apps must be approved by the app store, which can take time and may result in rejections.
  • Multiple Code Bases: Native mobile apps require separate code bases for each platform, leading to higher maintenance costs.

The history of native mobile apps can be traced back to the early days of mobile phones, when simple games and applications were pre-installed on the devices themselves. However, it wasn't until the launch of the iPhone in 2007 that native mobile apps really took off. Apple's App Store, which was launched in 2008, allowed developers to create and distribute apps to a large audience, and spurred a wave of innovation in mobile app development. Since then, native mobile apps have become an integral part of modern life, with millions of apps available on app stores for both iOS and Android devices.

Examples of native apps

  1. WhatsApp
  2. TikTok
  3. E-Mail-Apps

Progressive Web Apps

Progressive web apps (PWA) are web applications that are designed to work on any device, regardless of the operating system or device type. They are built using web technologies such as HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, and can be accessed through a web browser or installed on the home screen of a device.

Advantages of Progressive Web Apps

  • Cross-Platform Compatibility: PWAs can work on any device with a modern web browser, eliminating the need for separate code bases.
  • Faster Development Time: PWAs can be developed using web technologies, making the development process faster and more cost-effective.
  • Easy Maintenance: PWAs can be updated in real-time, without the need for users to download and install updates.

Disadvantages of Progressive Web Apps

  • Limited Access to Device Features: PWAs have limited access to device features such as camera and accelerometer, making it harder to create engaging user experiences.
  • Limited Monetization Options: Native mobile apps offer a wider range of monetization options, such as in-app purchases and subscriptions, whereas PWAs have limited options for generating revenue.
  • Browser Dependency: PWAs are dependent on web browsers, which may not support all the features required for the app to work properly.

The history of progressive web apps (PWAs) is relatively short compared to native mobile apps. PWAs were first introduced by Google in 2015 as a way to provide a better user experience on the mobile web. The idea behind PWAs was to combine the best of both worlds: the accessibility and ease of use of web apps with the capabilities and features of native mobile apps. Over the years, PWAs have gained popularity among developers and businesses alike, due to their ability to work across different devices and platforms, faster loading times, and improved user engagement.

Examples of Progressive Web Apps

  1. Starbucks
  2. Washington Post
  3. Tinder


Choosing between native mobile apps and progressive web apps depends on the specific needs of a business. If high performance and access to device features are important, then native mobile apps may be the best option. On the other hand, if cross-platform compatibility and fast development time are priorities, then progressive web apps may be the better choice.

Ultimately, businesses need to consider their target audience, the type of experience they want to deliver, and their development budget before deciding on the best approach for their needs.

Written by

Max Vorhauer

Portrait image of the author Max Vorhauer
Max war bis August 2023 Projekt- und Produktmanager bei descript. Er hat unser Entwickler:innenteam und unsere Kund:innen zusammengebracht, geplant, dokumentiert, kalkuliert und sorgte dafür, dass alle Rädchen im descript-Getriebe reibungslos ineinandergreifen.
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