Have you ever had those moments where you’re deep in thought about how you can create an efficient solution to a problem and then the light bulb turns on – “I can build an app!”
While the solution might seem like a great idea at the time, there are a few things to consider before turning those plans into actions. For example, the fact that perhaps your great idea doesn’t need an app after all. Perhaps all you need is a very well designed website that works on any device just like an app.
In fact, there are two different kinds of apps that people choose from when it comes to program efficiency. One is a native app, that is the app that you download to your mobile device. The other is a web app, which is an Internet-enabled app that is accessible via the mobile device’s Web browser. In many circumstances, a web app is just as efficient, and cheaper, than a native app.
When would you consider a Web App?
A web app should generally be the first option to consider. Today, user interface can look very similar for both, so a web app should be considered if you are looking for a more cost effective, faster way to develop your app. One other superior advantage is the ability to push updates and ongoing maintenance at anytime and with ease, the same way as you would update your website if need be.
Most importantly, mobile websites are compatible across most browsers on all devices, so you only need to build one web app – unlike the need for device-specific optimisation for native apps (i.e. 10+ current models).
When would you consider a Native App?
Native apps could be considered in the circumstance that you need a heavy use of mobile hardware and sensors for the performance, such as:
– Live camera view, microphone and video capture
– Sensors (accelerometer, gyroscope, digital compass, barometer)
– GPS / location tracking
– Processor / calculation
– Performance without internet connection
Therefore, a native app is suited for delivering interactive, gaming and personalised experiences (such as Pokemon GO which uses all of above mentioned). The user must download native apps via designated stores like the Apple App Store and Google Play which is quality controlled. This can be an advantage and disadvantage as all updates must go through the same quality controlled approval process which can become time consuming.
One other point to consider is that the shelf-life of a native app is short; meaning you must keep up with device and OS updates, so ensuring you have a team on hand to assist is crucial.
Examples of Web and Native Apps
In reality only a handful of native apps are using the full potential of mobile hardware and sensors. Despite that there is an undeniable pressure, expectation and aspirational drive for companies to have native apps.
Ironically, most social platforms perform better as web apps (evident from native app reviews by users), but they all still have obligatory native apps. These native apps do not offer extra features beyond web apps as well:
On the other hand, Australian mobile data provider Yomojo completely embraces web apps. When Yatango was purchased by Yomojo in 2015, they ditched the Yatango’s native app, and has since been working solely on web apps for their customer dashboard.
In contrast, the use of new emerging technologies like augmented reality (AR) make great examples of native apps. The AR execution relies heavily on all aspects of mobile hardware and sensors, and this is hard to replicate on web alone:
– Pokémon Go
– Google Translate
Another example of a Native App we created for a client using the Laravel framework
To conclude, if your user input and output requirements are simple, a web app is the preferred option. If you decide to expand your app down the track there is an option to compile web apps into a native app (there are industry tools available to create native apps such as Xamarin and Titanium which Slack, Pinterest and eBay have used).
Here at Matter Design our team of web professionals have the capacity to build a web or native app for your business or idea. Got a project in mind? Send us an email or give us a call and we would be happy to help.
|Web App||Native App|
|Time and Cost||Low||High|
|Compatibility||Single site for all devices||Device-specific builds|
|Accessibility||Via browsers||Via app stores|
|Camera, microphone, video||Limited camera still shots||Live & recording|
|Location Tracking||Limited||Full capabilities|
|Net Connection||Critical necessity||Can make to function without|
|Support and Maintenance||Easy & ongoing||Submit new build each time|
|Lifespan||Unlimited||Short (OS / device updates)|