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Web Mobile vs. Native Apps – App Designers Discuss Pros and Cons

Developer description

Write a web application, or port your existing one, all in C++. cheerp will generate JavaScript ... More

Editor's review

Published 14 Aug 2014

Mobile Web apps have come a long way to challenge their Native app counterparts and a debate has formed as to which method is best. Both offer users and developers advantages and hindrances in platform independence, performance, user discoverability, maintenance and much more. One thing is for certain, organizations developing their mobile content strategy should be aware of the advantages and disadvantages of both application technologies.

Massimo Grava and his partners at Cheerp have created a software that automatically compiles C++ code into JavaScript, allowing Web application developers to code in C++, thereby reusing their hard-earned C++ skills and battle-tested codebases. “C++ is a language that, thanks to its strongly-typed nature, has proven itself extremely suitable to be used to write and maintain very large codebases,” says Grava. With Cheerp, developers can use this power to easily write and maintain extremely complex Web applications. And while Web apps may never catch up to Native apps in terms of performance, Cheerp does provide numerous other advantages it inherits from running JS code such as maintainability, ease of debugging, skill and codebase recycling, all while allowing the developer to program in a typical Native app language.

Read on to see what these professional app developers and entrepreneurs have to say about what works best overall, Web Mobile or Native apps.

Although Web apps have the clear advantage when it comes to portability, updates, development simplicity and cost of maintenance - we [at Rsupport] still prefer Native apps. In terms of pure user experience, Native apps still have design and utility freedoms that cannot be duplicated within the confines of a browser/HTML5 – namely security, UI design, offline usage, and access to device hardware. With this in mind, many companies are adopting a Hybrid App strategy that uses elements from both types of apps.

Matthew W. Choy, Rsupport / Mobizen

Since mobile Web apps are platform independent, we would expect them to make it easier for multiple-device families to communicate with each other. However, they are slower because they need to match each device’s feature to its limited web equivalent. A Native app has access to a lot more device features and an unrivaled user experience. With today’s technology, a mobile app developed natively for each device has the same cross-platform communication abilities as other web apps with the user experience and other features that a Web app cannot achieve.

Loris Mazloum, SimpleVisa

It depends on the type of use of the platform. For short visits, such as reading articles and news for example, the Web is the solution that brings the user closer to the content and therefore is the best solution. For repeated use, such as communities and social networks, for example, the Native solution is the one that offers better performance and stability for navigation, vital for retaining users.

Joseph Bregeiro, Widbook

From a UX perspective, some of the new front-end frameworks enable the development of app-like mobile Web experiences, and they're getting closer to Native everyday. Speed, notifications, and access to phone functions are still the major benefits to developing Native, but the line is blurring. We're creating very consistent experiences on mobile Web and Native, allowing users to choose how they prefer to engage with Motoroso.

Alex Littlewood, Motoroso

Make the decision between Web and Native apps with the following data in mind: Conversion rates from click to download on the app store are VERY low (around 10%). Conversion rates for obtaining valuable permissions in the app (address book and push notification) are also big drops in the funnel. Knowing that an app’s conversion funnel is much longer, with many points of drop-off, is key for any developer facing this decision. That said, I personally believe apps are the future.

Shane Walker, Doublie

We at Tabletize think that full Native is the way to go – better performance, better experience, and full use of the device’s hardware and software-specific features, like for instance, iBeacons, AR and push notifications. Even building a 100-page fashion catalogue is not a trivial task with web technologies on mobile, with memory and performance getting in the way. And even if you can manage to work around these issues, you still get a non-optimal experience.

Franco Puppo, Tabletize

For companies such as ours, the portability of an app far outweighs a mobile website. Applications offer a richer set of user experiences, all designed perfectly for one specific person, the smartphone or tablet user. Mobile Web has its place in the marketplace, and in some instances can be a quicker alternative to installing a new app, but HTML5 has its limitations ... both in UI and UX.

Rick Steele, Vegaster

It was a no brainer for us at Betify to develop a native app for the following reasons: 1. Experience – we wanted it to be seamless and wow the user. For this reason a hybrid app was ruled out. 2. Discoverability – we believe that apps still have an advantage, as they can get featured in the App Store and are easier to find. 3. Retention – quick launch from the springboard, push notifications, caching data, are things that aren’t optimized on a webpage. 4. Technology – we have big plans to integrate amazing tech within the app (such as beacons) to enhance the experience, which we wouldn’t be able to do with a Web app.

Samuel Huber, Betify

By Jim Glade

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