Native or Web App ?

Throwing some light on this conundrum

There has been a lot of talk in the media about these but what is the difference, surely an app is an app !

In essence this is correct in that they look and function in the same way however the differences are in the background and not visible to the naked eye or should I say... not obvious unless it is pointed out to the user. Perhaps one of the most obvious examples of this is that when you download an app if it automatically places it's launch icon on your home screen then it's a native app !

This is because native apps are downloaded through your App Store and installed on your Smartphone memory in the same way that you install a programm on your PC. A web app however does not place anything on your Smartphone memory because it can't access it! The app is delivered to your screen via the internet in the same way as any other website would and so relies completely on an internet connection to function.

Making a decision on whether your business should invest in an App and then which type can be quite daunting as there are quite a lot of differences between the two leading to several positives and negatives for both forms but as with your business website, it will come down to what your objectives are, the market you operate in and your budget.

In our view there is no definitive answer as to which is best because it depends on so many factors but what we can say without fear of contradiction is that it is important to take advice and Kingswood Media are here to help your business address the issue without obligation so just give us a call or complete the form which you will find at the bottom of the page.

You will find more information within the drop down panels below each of the following headings;

Development
With native apps each platform (ie. iOS, Android, Windows) has to have its own development process or structure whereas the web apps run in the devices web browser. Not only that but each platform on a native app has to be written using that platform's programming language but web apps are all written using HTML5, CSS3 and Javascript irrespective of the platform.
Capabilities
Native apps can access all the functionality of the Smartphone such as the camera, accelerometer and information contained within the contacts. Apart from the geolocation, orientation and media a web app has very limited access a Smartphone's functionality
Monetising the apps
Both native and web apps can generate revenues through advertising. Native apps have many specialist ad platforms that will drive adverts to your app without you having to sell the adverts ! A high proportion of native apps downloaded from the App Stores are free but many are not and depending on the app's content and market can genearte cosndierable reveneus however you have to bear in mind that each platform will take a commission from the sale price (usually 30%). Balanced against that though you should consider that the app will benefit from a huge worldwide audience to advertise the app to that doesn’t cost anything. Web apps can set up subscription payments for exclsuisve access to apps and of courses product sales can be generated in the same way as you would from a website but it does mean additional development costs in building a secure payment gateway/structure.
Delivering the content
Native apps as we have already explained are installed on a Smartphone's memory and so over time will take up more and more space whereas a web app doesn’t take up any space as the content is held on a server. Updates happen automatically on a web app and so you are always up to date whereas the native apps rely on the user manually updating. The App Stores make the search for an app very easy but there is nothing similar for the web app market although we are sure this will happen at some point and so you have to rely on a normal Google search.
Strengths - Native App
There is no question that a native app will function a lot faster than the web app because it does not rely on an internet connection which we all know can be unreliable at times. The process of approving a native app by the platform providers such as Apple means that a high degree of customer confidence in the product is eminent with the native app which in these days of nasty viruses and the hacking of software then this has to be an important factor. Development build times have improved as time has passed and more and more tools to help developers have been introduced.
Weaknesses - Native App
Development costs are going to be higher as you have to build, maintain and support various platforms plus the fact that users can and will be on different versions of the operating software which can easily add to those costs. The approval process will add delays into the launch process and sometimes result in an app being rejected !
Strengths - Web App
Web apps have complete freedom of design and functionality for the simple reason that they do not have to be pre approved by the platforms such as Apple or Google. This means that the speed with which a web app can come to market is much faster. The common source code or programming language means that all web developers can build them and thereby create a much more competitive marketplace. Not having to go to an App Store to download is another factor which can provide much more flexibility in the marketability of a web app.
Weaknesses - Web App
Users can be frustrated when trying to find a web app as there is no centralised store like with Apple's App Store and Google Play for native apps. Web apps cannot access all of a Smartphone's functionality although that will slowly change. Changes in web browsers can also add development costs as one has to ensure that your web app will render properly.


Example of effective use of a web app

A restaurant has a very good website and are more than happy but want to engage with their customers much more through their Smartphones. They decide to put their wine list on a web app and promote this not only from their website but within the restaurant through the use of QR Codes.

In circumstances like this where you take a certain aspect of your business and market it through a web app then by setting up links within it to your web site, which should also be responsive, then the customer's experience is seamless, more effective and are more likely to refer your business to their friends.

To view this demo either tap the image at the top if you're viewing this on your Smartphone or scan the QR Code below. This demo is also a good example of how, irrespective of which device you view it on, it renders well across all screens and because of that would be noticed by Google !

Scan to view demo