Do You Really Need a Native App?

In today’s tech-driven world, the two primary methods for creating apps are Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) and native apps. While PWAs provide a seamless app-like experience across all devices, native apps have better performance and hardware integration on specific platforms. In this article, we will discuss situations where developing a native app might be more suitable than using a PWA.

What Is a Progressive Web App?

A Progressive Web App (PWA) is a website that looks and feels like a regular app. You can add it to your home screen, use it offline, and enjoy fast, smooth performance. PWAs are secure and update automatically. Since they combine the features of a website and a native app, they work on any device across all browsers and operating systems (iOS, Android, etc.).

What Is a Native App?

A native app is a software application developed for a particular platform or operating system, like iOS or Android. We usually download and install native apps through an app store. Native apps fully utilize the device’s hardware and software capabilities, and as a result, they have faster performance.

When Do You Need a Native App?

PWA and native app comparison chart

Consider the following when deciding between a native app and a Progressive Web App (PWA):

Higher performance for gaming or resource-intensive applications

Native apps perform better for:

  • Games: Native apps run smoother because they can directly use the device’s hardware and graphics capabilities. It means the games look better, load faster, and run more smoothly, providing a more enjoyable experience.
  • Video and audio editing: Working with large video or music files is faster in native apps because they can use the full power of the device. It’s especially useful for tasks like cutting videos, adding effects, or mixing music.
  • Advanced data analysis: Tasks that need to process a lot of information quickly work better in native apps because they can handle more data at once and do it faster. This is important for apps that analyze big data sets, like tracking fitness stats or processing complex calculations, making them more reliable.

Access the advanced device features

Native apps have deeper integration with device hardware, including:

  • Advanced camera features: Native apps can access raw camera data, control exposure, and implement complex real-time image processing.
  • NFC capabilities: This is crucial for contactless payments, reading information from NFC tags, and secure identification systems.
  • Sensor access: Native apps can better use your phone’s built-in sensors to detect movement, rotation, light, air pressure, etc. It allows apps to respond to how you’re using your phone and what’s happening around it. For example, fitness apps can count steps and navigation apps can provide accurate directions.

Extensive offline functionality

Native apps can efficiently store and sync large amounts of data offline, run background tasks, and work closely with the device’s features. Some examples are:

  • Navigation Apps: Native navigation apps can store detailed maps and routes on your device, allowing you to get directions without an internet connection. A PWA might only show a small part of the map you’ve already looked at.
  • Email Clients: Native apps for email can download all your emails and attachments so you can read and manage them even when you don’t have the internet. A PWA might only save a few recent emails.
  • Music streaming apps: Native apps can download and store a large number of songs, albums, and playlists for offline listening. They provide smooth playback and work seamlessly in the background.
  • Language learning apps: Native apps can download entire courses, including audio and video content for offline use. They offer enhanced performance for interactive exercises and quizzes.

Developing a native app is a better choice in these cases because they can:

  • Have bigger local data storage capacity (limited only by device storage).
  • Access all stored content, including large media files.
  • Access camera, GPS, accelerometer, etc., even offline.
  • Operate fully in no/poor network areas.
  • Handle more complex tasks including editing large files, advanced calculations, or detailed data management.

Advanced security features

While PWAs provide a good level of security for many applications, native apps can leverage advanced security features offered by the operating system. For apps dealing with highly sensitive data, such as banking and health apps, native apps offer better security mechanisms:

  • Advanced Authentication: Native apps can utilize device-specific security features, such as biometric authentication (fingerprint or facial recognition), providing an additional layer of security for user data.
  • Sandboxed Environment: Native apps run in a sandboxed environment, meaning they are isolated from each other and the operating system. This isolation prevents a compromised app from accessing sensitive data or resources from other apps or the operating system.
  • Data Storage and Encryption: Native apps typically encrypt data they store on the device’s file system. This encryption provides an additional layer of protection. The encrypted data is not accessible to other apps or the OS, and the native app has full control over how it is stored, encrypted, and retrieved.

Presence in app stores

Here are some key reasons why you might need to have your app available in app stores:

  • Industry requirements: Some fields, especially finance and healthcare, may require apps to be distributed through official app stores for security and legal reasons.
  • In-app purchases: If your app relies heavily on in-app purchases, official app stores can be a good option. They offer built-in payment systems that users trust and are familiar with. However, alternatives exist. For example, Taptiq allows easy integration with trusted services like PayPal or Stripe. These options can also provide secure and familiar payment experiences and give you more flexibility in handling transactions.
  • Access to closed ecosystems: Some devices only allow apps from their official stores. These include smart TVs, streaming devices (such as Apple TV), smart speakers (like Amazon Echo), etc. Users can’t install apps from other sources, making app store presence essential for reaching these audiences.
  • If your marketing strategy focuses on app store optimization (ASO) or uses special features within app stores, then having your app in these stores is crucial.

PWA Success Stories

While native apps are still useful in some cases, Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) are rapidly evolving and becoming more and more powerful. Many companies have achieved great results by using PWAs. Here are some compelling success stories:

  • The Starbucks PWA has increased daily active users 2x. Orders on a desktop are nearly the same rate as a mobile.
  • Tinder reduced load times from 11.91 seconds to 4.69 seconds with a PWA. The PWA is 90% smaller than Tinder’s native Android app. User engagement has increased across the board on the PWA.
  • BookMyShow’s PWA takes less than 3 seconds to load and increased conversion rates by over 80%. The PWA is 54x smaller than the Android app and 180x smaller than the iOS app.
  • Forbes’ PWA test saw a 2x increase in average user session length, a 6x completion rate, and 20% more impressions. Loads in 0.8s down from 3 to 12s.
  • Lancôme’s PWA features a 17% increase in conversions, a 51% increase in mobile sessions overall, and a 53% increase on iOS alone. Notifications contribute an 18% open rate and a 12% increase in recovered carts. 8% of people responding to a notification make a purchase.
  • AliExpress improved the conversion rate for new users by 104% across all browsers, with 2x more pages visited and 74% more time spent per session.
  • Alibaba increased conversions on the mobile web by 76%, with 14% more monthly active users on iOS and 30% more on Android.

These case studies show that PWAs can significantly improve user engagement, performance, and conversion rates. As PWA technology continues to improve, the gap between PWAs and native apps is getting smaller, making PWAs a more attractive option.

Choosing the Right Approach for Your App

Decision tree for choosing between Progressive Web App (PWA) and native app based on needs such as performance, device integration, offline functionality, security, and app store presence.

While native apps still hold advantages in certain scenarios, Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) have made significant strides and are becoming increasingly powerful. The choice between a native app and a PWA depends on your specific needs and goals. Native apps might be a better approach when you need:

  • High performance for resource-intensive tasks
  • Deep integration with device hardware
  • Extensive offline functionality
  • Advanced security features
  • Presence in app stores for certain industries or marketing strategies

As PWA technology continues to evolve, the gap between PWAs and native apps is narrowing. For many industries, PWAs offer a cost-effective, widely accessible, high-performing solution. When deciding carefully consider your specific requirements, target audience, and long-term goals to make the best choice.

Try Taptiq for free to build and launch your app today!

Comments are closed.