Our team frequently advises our clients on what type of application to choose: native, cross-platform, or PWA. Therefore, we decided to simplify our task and write an article focusing on the difference between native apps and PWAs.
What is PWA?
Progressive Web Apps (PWA) is not a framework or SDK. It's a philosophy on how to build modern web applications. Simply put, it's a display mode of a website that can be run as an application on a smartphone. Hence, PWAs can work on any device, whether it's a computer, tablet, or smartphone.
The main feature of PWAs is the support for offline functionality using the Service Worker mechanism and the associated ability to add the application icon to the user's device home screen. Companies such as Tinder, Pinterest, Forbes, Aliexpress, and Uber have PWA applications.
PWA vs Native
Progressive Web Apps (PWA) have a range of advantages over native apps. However, like any other approach, PWAs have their drawbacks too. Let’s compare PWAs with native applications.
Advantages of Progressive Web Apps (PWA)
✔️️ Cross-platform capability.
PWAs work with most browsers and operating systems:
✔️️ Faster deployment.
Creating a PWA is quicker than developing native apps for different platforms.
✔️️ App performance.
Since PWA is essentially a website, its performance speed cannot match that of native apps. When compared to React Native, the disparity is not significant, however, PWAs on Flutter will perform much better than RN apps.
✔️️ Push notifications.
PWAs enable push notifications through Service Workers. However, this feature is platform-dependent. They are available in browsers like Chrome, Opera, Safari, and Mozilla, and Safari on iOS. Push notifications in PWAs work well on Android; this feature was introduced in update 16.4 and is enabled by default for all iOS users.
✔️ Independence from app stores.
With PWAs, the lengthy content update reviews, possible app removals, and opaque under-the-hood checks in Google Play/Apple Store/App Gallery become a thing of the past. A PWA is an app assembled from a browser. To deploy an app on a website, there's no need for app stores; simply upload it to a domain.
Drawbacks of PWA
Certain devices may not support specific PWA features, such as push notifications or offline mode. Similarly, some browsers may not support PWA capabilities.
PWA applications ensure security by utilizing the HTTPS protocol, web app manifest, and Service Workers. They rely on the protection provided by the browser and require preliminary defenses against attacks like CSRF, XSS, SQL injections, and other similar threats.
Advantages of Native Apps over PWAs
✔️️ Maximum Performance and Functionality.
Native apps can fully leverage device functionality, providing high performance and access to a wide range of features.
✔️️ Full Access to Device Features.
Native apps can interact with the camera, sensors, geolocation, and other device capabilities.
✔️️ Enhanced User Experience.
Native apps can offer the best user interface and interaction through optimization for each platform.
✔️️ Access to App Stores.
Being listed in app stores can increase an app's visibility and user trust.
✔️️ In-app Security.
Native apps are considered more secure due to several factors:
Disadvantages of Native Apps compared to PWAs
Let us separately focus on the limitations of basic platform features on iOS and Android. The limitations and features that are unavailable as of April 2023 are emphasized.
|Android||iOS||Заголовок 3||Заголовок 4||Заголовок 5||Заголовок 6||Заголовок 7||Заголовок 8||Заголовок 9|
|Video||Video||Нужен блок||Нужен блок||Нужен блок с табличкой для статей на вихре||Нужен блок||Нужен блок||Нужен блок с табличкой для статей на вихре||Нужен блок|
|Contact picker||Contact picker|
|Web share||Web share|
|File System||File System|
|Audio recording||Audio recording|
|Web NFC||Web NFC|
|QR code scan||QR code scan|
|Wake Lock||Wake Lock|
|3D Motion||3D Motion|
|Multi Touch||Multi Touch|
|Network info||Network info|
|Speech synthesis||Speech synthesis|
|Speech recording||Speech recording|
What to Choose
In conclusion, we will outline situations when you should particularly consider Progressive Web Applications (PWA).
Limited Time and Budget: PWAs require less time and resources for development and publication. If you develop a PWA using the Flutter framework, the business gets a whole suite of applications: Web + Mobile + PWA. This is cheaper than maintaining three development teams: Android – Kotlin, iOS – Swift, Web – JS.
You want a simple application for your users: PWA does not require downloading and allows interaction with users through push notifications. Additionally, PWAs will help you engage uninvolved users – those who prefer interacting with websites. Typically, such users are reluctant to transition to mobile applications, with the likelihood of this being around ≈30–60%. Progressive web applications can increase the likelihood that a user will use both Web and PWA.
You need platform independence: PWA is assembled for any platform Android and iOS, using a browser. Therefore, it doesn’t matter from which platform the application was installed.