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The Showdown: Native Apps VS Progressive Web Apps

Much like a website, having a personalized app is fast becoming a non-negotiable for businesses. That said, building an entire app from scratch can be time consuming and costly—deterring many small businesses and organizations that would benefit greatly from them.

In addition, the current climate has only forced business leaders to tighten budgets further and think creatively about their tech spend. It should come as no surprise then that many companies have turned to no- or low-code native apps or progressive web apps to satisfy their needs. These two options, however, are not interchangeable, and carry significant pros and cons. So, what’s the difference, and which option is better? Let’s dive in.

First and foremost, it helps to have a basic, operational understanding of each platform. Native apps, at their simplest, are independent apps that a user downloads from an app store. They are built for specific software (such as iOS or Android) to maximize functionality within that framework and system. Native apps that are low- or no-code mean they have a pre-existing structure with which businesses can customize and quickly upload their content and resources to. Think more “drag and drop” into an established interface versus building up from square one.  

Progressive web apps (PWAs), on the other hand, operate purely from the web. On the surface, they promise many things—a similar look and experience from installed native apps, a unified experience across devices, no lengthy downloads or updates, and fast development times—but do they deliver?

While PWAs are attractive on paper, they are incredibly limiting. Operating as essentially websites in disguise, PWAs can’t offer a myriad of important features that strengthen the user experience, such as push notifications, Bluetooth connectivity, in-app payments and more. By their very nature, PWAs drain more battery, offer less security and authentication, and don’t play nice with other apps or integrate with existing hardware. While they may be easier to access, ultimately they become harder to use because so much of what the person needs to do will happen outside of the app. Meaning? More flipping back-and-forth, so something that was meant to be productive has now become reductive.

Native apps surmount these challenges, and when built via a low- or no-code platform, can be just as fast and easy to develop and deploy as PWAs. Native apps create a controlled, structured and robust environment while allowing for interaction with other apps and device features, resulting in a stronger and more cohesive mobile experience. Additionally, native apps give organizations the credibility they need via app store visibility, elevating their brand awareness. 

Apps are a helpful tool for organizations that need to engage their customers or optimize their employees. With work becoming increasingly more remote and life on-the-go, having reliable mobile resources means keeping up with the pace of business and our everyday lives. PWAs may draw interest with their promise of easy and fast delivery, but ultimately read like just another “too good to be true” disappointment.

With low- and no-code native apps, organizations can build a high-functioning, feature-rich  and dependable app to connect and equip their audience, wherever they are. Interested in learning about how you can get a custom-branded app up and running in as little as 48 hours? Let’s get started