The word “app” is a buzzword these days but most people don’t discuss the differences between the two types of apps: native mobile apps and mobile web apps. Whether you are developing apps for your own personal use or for your business, it’s important to recognize the different merits of the two so you can make the best decision about which one – if not both – is right for you.
What are Native Mobile Apps and Mobile Web Apps?
A native-version app is an application program that has been developed for use on a particular platform or device, such as iPhones or iPads. Once installed onto the users device, it runs as a program rather than as an internet browser.
Mobile web apps, on the other hand, are essentially mobile-friendly versions of a website that can also be downloaded to users’ devices and appear to be the same as native apps. They are accessed through the mobile device’s web browser.
Which Type is More Common?
When it comes to mobile marketing, native apps are certainly more popular than mobile web apps. According to a recent Global Intelligence Alliance white paper “Native or Web Application? How Best to Deliver Content and Services to Your Audiences over the Mobile Phone” (http://goo.gl/yMKl8):
- 44% of respondents offered only native apps
- 22% of respondents offered only mobile web apps
- 35% of respondents offered both types of apps
Native mobile apps really took off again when Apple opened up their App Store in 2008. To this day the vast majority of apps that are developed for the iPhone and iPad still need to run on the iOS platform, though there are now “hybrid” apps being created. “Hybrid” apps are native applications that are using the Web to connect to the application, or Mobile Web applications that have “offline” modes so that internet connectivity isn’t an issue.
Why Do Some Users Choose Web Apps?
Mobile Web apps have one clear advantage over native apps: they can run on any browser, any OS, and can tap into a software “cloud” which means that the resources available are better wherever and whenever you need them to be. You can access them anywhere and at any time the internet is available.
Why Are Native Apps More Popular?
While mobile web apps definitely have their perks, most users prefer native apps. Perhaps the most common reason why people might prefer native mobile apps over mobile web apps is that you do not need to be connected to the internet to run them. This makes your app usable at all times and your customer service always open.
Another benefit to not being tied to the Internet is that the app will open quickly regardless of your internet speed. For the most part, this means that your app will operate faster and be more reliable than if you were to use a mobile web app.
Here’s another consideration: If a developer decides that they no longer want to update and modify the app, you still can continue to run that app on your device. Native apps aren’t tied down to version updates, and once they’re downloaded on your device, they will continue to operate.
Native apps also interact together and therefore are capable of leveraging other apps for additional functionality. This is particularly relevant with photos and social networking accounts. For instance, with some native apps you can download an image and – for Apple devices – the image will be stored in the “Photos” app. However, perhaps the most important additional function is the developer’s ability to send push notifications to app users, which can only be done with native apps! Click here to learn more about push notifications.
Mobithinking released some interesting info that further supported why native mobile apps are better for businesses to use than mobile web apps (http://mobithinking.com/mobile-marketing-tools/latest-mobile-stats). When they had asked publishers who used both native and web apps how they performed, here is what they discovered:
- Twice as many publishers found that they were a higher user adoption, user engagement, and usage volume with native apps than mobile web apps (30% of the publishers reported seeing over 100% higher usage volume and engagement on native apps in comparison to Web apps)
- Native apps had a higher click-through rate (CTR) among ad-serving publishers
What does this mean for businesses? That native apps have a higher likelihood of success in lead generation, conversions, and a higher ROI. Also, generally speaking, mobile web apps offer a poor user experience when compared to native apps. For example, native apps can tap into native device features, like the camera on your phone or your phone’s calendar.
Mobile App Security
The last consideration that has to be made is security, especially for any business that plans on having users enter in any sort of personal information, such as an email address, a credit card number, or a phone number. Native mobile apps don’t need to connect to a third party network as frequently as Web apps, if at all, so they are better choice in terms of security.