Native mobile apps and web apps are not the same thing. They are very different so they are developed and deployed quite differently and the user experience is different as well.
A web application (app) is a special kind of website that is designed to be viewed on a smartphone and function like downloadable apps, but through browsers like Chrome or Safari.
Web applications are websites with more interactive elements than a typical website which basically provides one-way interaction like Wikipedia where you go to principally receive information. Web apps like Facebook and Twitter are dynamic and designed for user engagement
Native mobile apps are built for a specific platform like iOS for Apple devices or Android for Samsung. They are downloaded by the user from an app store and these apps are able to access the users system resources, like GPS and the camera.
Native mobile apps live and run on the user’s device itself like Snapchat, Instagram, and Facebook Messenger.
Native apps can work on either iOS or Android, but a native iOS app will not work on an Android device and vice versa. For a native app to work on both systems, it has to be built separately. That will affect the overall cost of the development.
WHICH ONE SHOULD YOU DEVELOP?
One of the advantages of the web app is that it works almost everywhere. Your users will get a consistent experience across the various mobile devices. And, with only needing minimal platform-specific development, you can see savings of both time and money.
Updating the application is easier with a web app because if you fix a bug or launch a new feature, you will only have to update the server that runs the app. So the next time your users engage with the app, they will receive all the updated information.
For native apps to be updated, a new version needs to be built and submitted to the app stores and downloaded. If your users don’t have an auto-update feature set up, they may never update your app and will miss out on having the latest version of your software.
Native apps work when your user loses their internet connection because they have a lot of the code that needs to function actually on the user’s device, compared to a web app that has to load it through the web browser every time.
Access to Mobile Features
Native apps have the ability to interact with other parts of your phone that browser-based apps cannot. If you are using Yelp and want to get directions to the new restaurant in town, Yelp can access your phone’s map and show you the way.
The native app can work much faster by harnessing the power of the processor while the web app’s speed is dependent on the cell signal or the speed of the wi-fi broadband.
The various parts that produce a “feel” like transitions between screens, slide-out menus, animated interface elements that guide a user from one area to another tend to perform better when implemented in a native app versus a web app. A native app lends itself to a better user experience overall.
Your native app is going to have the highest cost because of the development time needed to adapt it to various devices. Most developers specialize in either Android or iOS, so to have your application developed on both platforms will most likely require two separate development teams. The web app can be built much quicker (half the time usually) and thus the costs are significantly lower.
Your digital partner can guide you through more specifics and price and development timeline of both types of applications. Your goal is to find the application that works best for your business model and how you want your customers interacting with it.