PWA vs Native App: 5 Key Differences to Consider Before Building Your App

    Key Takeaway

  • The main difference between PWA and native app is that progressive web apps are web-based and can run on any platform with a modern web browser, while native apps are platform-specific and provide a more optimized experience on a specific platform like iOS or Android.

Choosing the right type of app between PWA and native for your business can be a challenging task, especially if you’re just taking the first steps. But don’t worry, you’re not alone. Such challenges are common and we are here to help you with the solution.

Whether you’re new to app development or you’re just looking to migrate to a new platform, this guide is for you. We’ll cover everything you need to know about PWA vs Native apps, so you can choose the best type of app for your business.

But, before we start the difference between PWA vs Native applications, let’s take a closer look at PWAs and native mobile apps through their definitions.

What are Progressive Web Apps?

Progressive web apps are web applications that deliver an app-like user experience with expandable features than traditional web apps. Moreover, PWAs can also be accessed from any device with a web browser. Such web apps are accessible from any screen, can work offline, and can integrate with the device and other installed apps to reach a wider audience.

Moreover, PWAs are designed and built using common web apps on web technologies, such as HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. Such technologies make PWAs more responsive, reliable, and engaging, providing users with a seamless experience regardless of their network conditions.

Well-known examples of progressive web apps are Telegram, Starbucks, Twitter Lite, Spotify, Pinterest, and Tinder. Moreover, if you want to learn how Twitter and Tinder use PWAs, then check out our blog on examples of progressive web apps. This blog provides complete information about how PWAs have helped well-known companies to leverage the power of PWAs.

What are Native Apps?

Native apps are applications that are developed and built, especially for particular operating systems like iOS or Android. This native app is typically written in the native programming language for the operating system, such as Objective-C or Swift for iOS, or Java or Kotlin for Android.

Further, native apps are developed specifically for a particular platform. Hence, they can take full advantage of the hardware and software features of the device, resulting in excellent performance and responsiveness.

Well-known examples of native apps are Tesla, WhatsApp, Snapchat, and Facebook.

Now, let us take a look at the detailed comparison of progressive web apps with native apps.

5 Key Differences of PWA vs Native Apps

Here are the top 5 comparisons of PWA vs native apps. This comparison will help you to choose the right app for your business and aid you in easy decision-making.

Sr. NoParametersProgressive Web AppNative App
1Platform CompatibilityPWAs are web apps that look and feel like native apps and can be installed on any device with a web browser, such as smartphones, tablets, and desktops.Native apps are developed using the specific programming languages and frameworks for each platform, such as Swift for iOS and Java for Android.

2App Store DistributionDistribution via app stores is not necessary for PWAs. Without the need to download and set them up from an app store, PWA gives you the best of both worlds.Native apps are distributed through platform-specific app stores like Apple App Store or Google Play Store. Users must download and install the apps from the store to access and use them.
3Access to Native APIsPWAs are still web apps at their core, so they are subject to the same limitations as any other web app. This includes limited access to device APIs and functionalities.Native apps can seamlessly integrate with various device capabilities, such as push notifications, camera access, contact list, and more.
4Offline FunctionalityPWAs offer offline functionality through service workers and caching. They can store data and resources locally, allowing users to interact with the app offline or in areas with limited connectivity.Native programs offer a wide range of offline features. Users can access and use the app’s features and content even without an internet connection because they can save data locally on the device.
5CostPWA app development is cost-effective compared to native apps. PWAs use web technologies, enabling the use of a single codebase for multiple platforms.Native apps that are built specifically for particular platforms, such as iOS or Android. This means that they need to be developed twice, for each platform.

Knowing the difference now let us discuss the advantages and limitations of both native apps and PWA. Examining advantages and limitations will provide a complete overview of both apps and help you choose the one easily.

Want to Develop a Progressive Web App for Your Business?

We are here to help you. We will help you with every step away. We are an experienced and skilled web app development company with a proven track record of success.

Cta Image

6 Advantages and 3 Limitations of Progressive Web Apps

Here are the advantages and limitations of progressive web apps. In this section, you will be able to explore the unknown advantages and limitations of the progressive web app that will help you to identify the capabilities and weaknesses of PWA apps.

Advantages of Progressive Web AppLimitations of Progressive Web App
  • Progressive web apps load faster compared to traditional web apps. Such capability of PWAs is beneficial for users during low internet connectivity and or devices with limited storage space.
  • The major evolution in web apps is offline access. Progressive web apps allow users to access apps without an internet connection, benefiting those in areas with limited or unreliable connectivity.
  • PWAs enable push notifications, enhancing interactivity and engagement with users. Unlike traditional web apps, which initially lacked this feature, PWAs now offer the same capability as native mobile apps.
  • Just like the native app, PWAs can be added to the user’s home screen. This makes it easy for users to access your app and keep it up-to-date.
  • PWAs can be easily updated without the need for users to reinstall the app. This makes it easy to keep your app up-to-date with the latest features and bug fixes.
  • PWAs provide a unified user experience across all platforms and browsers. This is because they are built using web standards, so that they may be accessed and used uniformly across all devices.
  • PWAs have limited access to the underlying hardware and software of the device. As a result, they are unable to take advantage of all the functionalities that native apps offer.
  • PWAs share the same security vulnerabilities as traditional web apps. Without proper precautions like HTTPS, multi-factor authentication, and robust security measures, the risk of security breaches increases in PWAs.
  • PWAs can experience slower loading times compared to native apps, particularly on low-resource devices. This is because PWAs, being web apps, are subject to the same performance limitations as traditional web apps.

Mentioned advantages and limitations of progressive web apps have helped you to understand PWAs more precisely. Hence it’s time to explore the advantages and limitations of native apps.

5 Advantages and 4 Limitations of Native Apps

This section will go through the advantages and limitations of native apps that will help you to explore the unique information about native apps. Let us understand the pros and cons of native apps through a table.

Advantages of Native AppsLimitations of Native Apps
  • Native apps outperform web apps since they are tailored for the device’s OS and hardware. Direct communication with hardware enables native apps to leverage the device’s native features, resulting in superior performance.
  • Native apps can perform background operations even when not in the foreground, facilitating tasks such as data synchronization, file downloads, and audio streaming on iOS and Android platforms.
  • Native app features a variety of themes, allowing users to alter how the program appears and feels. This enhances the user experience and increases the app’s attractiveness to a broader user base.
  • The native app delivers a feature-centric experience to users by offering platform-specific tools to navigate apps, mobile payments, and robust security features.
  • Native apps offer a higher level of security compared to web apps, as they undergo an approval process by app stores, ensuring their safety before being made available to users.
  • Native app development and deployment is complex due to distribution through multiple app stores with varying approval processes, making the process lengthy and extensive.
  • Native apps are less widely available than web apps due to their exclusive distribution through app stores, resulting in reduced discoverability compared to web apps.
  • Native app development is more expensive than developing a single web app. The need for separate code bases, increased testing, marketing efforts, and app store fees contribute to the higher cost of native app development.
  • Native app development often requires more time than web app development due to the need for platform-specific builds and extensive testing across multiple devices and operating systems to ensure compatibility.

The table mentioned above with the advantages and limitations of the native app have helped you with a precise overview of the native app platform. However, you might still be confused about what to choose for your user. Don’t worry we are here to help you, let us decide the winner based on functionalities and other parameters of PWAs vs native apps.

Let’s find out the winner of the battle in the following section.

What to Hire a Progressive Web App Developer?

We have a team of professionally skilled web app developers who follow agile app development methodology that allows us to deliver your web app in a timely and cost-effective manner.

Which is Better? Progressive Web Application vs Native Application

Deciding a winner between PWA and a native app is challenging however, we can decide on comparing the capabilities of PWAs and native apps. Let’s understand who is the winner.

Automatic App Update

PWA: PWAs can be updated automatically in the background, without the user having to manually download and install the update. No app store optimization is required frequently.

Native App: Native apps cannot update automatically in the background, users need to visit app stores and need to update by clicking on the update button. Moreover, the native app requires app store optimization due to frequent updates.

Winner – PWA

Reason – PWAs give an advantage over native apps in terms of the capability of app upgrades. Without the user needing to physically download and install the update, PWAs can be automatically updated in the background.

Operating System Integration

PWA – The operating system cannot be integrated with PWAs to access features and functionality. PWAs, for instance, cannot be integrated with the camera, GPS, or notification system.

Native App – The operating system can be integrated with the native app to access features and functionality. While accessing native apps users can use the camera, GPS, or notification system.

Winner: Native app

Reason: Native apps provide more freedom in terms of integration. Native apps offer a more seamless user experience, as they can take advantage of the device’s hardware and can be more tightly integrated with the operating system.

Search Engine Index

PWA: PWAs can be indexed by search engines, which means that they can be found in search results. This can help to increase the visibility of your PWA and to attract new users.

Native App: Native apps cannot be indexed by search engines. This is because native apps are more widely used and are more likely to be installed on devices.

Winner: PWA

Reason: PWAs offer more benefits as it offers capabilities to reach a wider audience. Broader visibility increases the reach of PWAs as compared to native apps, as native apps are typically only available through app stores.

Platform-Specific UI/UX

PWA: PWAs are not likely to have more responsive and intuitive features. However, PWAs are more responsive than traditional web apps.

Native Apps: The features and capabilities of the device can be fully utilized by native apps because they are created expressly for the operating system of the device. The software will be more responsive and have more features as a result, which could improve the user experience.

Winner: Native apps

Reason: Native apps offer more sovereignty in terms of platform-specific UI/UX. However, PWA apps may lack in providing the user experience on the user’s mobile device.

Data Usage on Functioning of Features

PWA: PWAs can be cached on the user’s device, which means that they can be loaded from the local cache. This can help to reduce data usage, as the app does not need to be downloaded from the internet every time it is used.

Native App: Native apps can be more data-intensive than PWAs, as they may use more features and functionality that require an internet connection.

Winner: PWA

Reason: PWAs can be cached on the user’s device and can use service workers to fetch resources from the web in the background. This can help to reduce data usage, as the app does not need to be downloaded from the internet every time it is used.

The comparison between PWA vs native apps is competitive and obviously, it is challenging to decide the one winner. Both PWA and native apps are masters in their expertise, hence it is not easy to choose one winner from both platforms.

Overall, there is no clear winner between PWA vs native apps, as the best way to decide which type of app is right for you is to consider your specific needs and requirements. Hence in the next section, we will discuss the considerations of when to choose PWA and when to choose the native app.

Let’s explore.

When to Choose PWA?

The key consideration of choosing PWA:

  • If you need an app that can run smoothly on mobile devices that include Android users, and iOS users, while also working like a web app on a web browser
  • If you want to make your user save storage space in their device.
  • If you want to develop just one app or hybrid apps for all platforms and devices.

When to Choose a Native App?

The key consideration of choosing a Native app:

  • If you need an app that offers an intuitive user experience, seamless app navigation, and decent performance on mobile phones
  • If you want to make your app available on Google Play and Apple’s App Store
  • To deliver an intuitive UI/UX user experience.
  • A platform-specific operating system especially for mobile users.
  • If you want a high-performing app for your users.

Now let us check out frequently asked questions that will help you to clear your doubts on PWAs and native apps.

Frequently Asked Questions About PWA vs Native App

Will PWAs replace native mobile applications?

PWAs are unlikely to fully replace native apps due to the advantages of native apps in terms of performance, integration, and features. However, PWAs offer benefits such as cross-platform compatibility, ease of development and maintenance, and cost-effectiveness. They provide a balanced choice for different app types.

Do PWAs work on all mobile devices?

Progressive web apps do function on the majority of current mobile devices. PWAs are made to work with many different platforms and browsers, ensuring widespread accessibility. They can function on gadgets running Windows, Android, iOS, and other operating systems.

How much time do progressive web apps require to develop?

The time to develop progressive web apps is approximately 2 to 6 months. However, the amount of time it takes to develop a progressive web app can vary depending on the complexity of the app and the experience of the developer. However, in general, PWAs can be developed more quickly than native apps.

Are push notifications features available in PWAs?

Yes, push notifications are available in PWAs. Push notifications are a way to send messages to users even when they are not actively using your app. This can be used to notify users of new content, and updates, or even just to keep them engaged with your app.

Choose the Best Platform to Build Your App

The platform you choose to build your app will determine its success and your business growth. Hence it is crucial to select the right app by considering all parameters, needs, and requirements of your business and user. In this blog, we have discussed the comprehensive difference between PWA vs native. We discussed the pros and cons, features, and compared winners through a few factors.

However, if you are still not able to decide whether you need a PWA or native app we are here to help you. We have experienced app developers who can help you choose the right platform for your app. They will assess your needs and recommend the best solution for you. Collaborate with our experts and get your questions answered with proven technologies.

Bhaval Patel

Written by

Bhaval Patel is a Director (Operations) at Space-O Technologies. He has 20+ years of experience helping startups and enterprises with custom software solutions to drive maximum results. Under his leadership, Space-O has won the 8th GESIA annual award for being the best mobile app development company. So far, he has validated more than 300 app ideas and successfully delivered 100 custom solutions using the technologies, such as Swift, Kotlin, React Native, Flutter, PHP, RoR, IoT, AI, NFC, AR/VR, Blockchain, NFT, and more.