Mobile App or a PWA? What to choose for your business?

19th November 2021


The first and foremost question that you may have is what is a PWA? And what makes it different from a mobile app? To answer the former, a PWA or Progressive Web Application is a hyper optimized mobile website having the features to act like an app in some cases like accessing the camera or storage on your device.

Progressive Web Applications

A PWA can be used from within mobile browsers like Chrome, Safari, Firefox, etc. It’s called ‘progressive’ because it downloads the content to show as and when you browse the pages. It sounds like a great middle-ground between a regular mobile website and a mobile app, however, it comes with its own set of pros and cons which will make it suitable or not so suitable for your needs.

The pros of developing a PWA

Saves time & money at the development stage. A PWA only has to be designed & developed once and not separately for Android and iOS. However, both the OS and all devices need to be considered for the design and to ensure no bugs are there when running the PWA across browsers & devices.

No need to submit the app for review to the OS store. Since it’s going to run from within web browsers and no app needs to be downloaded, one doesn’t have to submit it for review to the Play Store or the Apple Store.

Easier & faster user access. Pre-installed web browsers and the link to the PWA is all anyone needs thus making the access much faster since it involves no download time.

Efficient use of storage space. PWAs only download and load the content as required while you browse instead of downloading the entire data to your phone as a mobile app would. This takes up a much smaller cache memory and uses a fraction of the storage space than that of a mobile app.

Easier to find. A PWA, like a mobile website, is going to be SEO optimized so more likely to be found by someone looking something up on Google or on any other search engine.

Easier to share. To share the PWA one only has to share the web link and not the app link or create a product link to share from within the app.

The cons of developing a PWA

No offline access. PWAs can only be accessed with an active internet connection since no data is stored on the device.

User experience may vary. Despite all optimizations and design implementations, it’s impossible to account for every possible bug that may arise due to the browser being used, OS version and or device. So if the experience on an iPhone 13 & Google Pixel 6 is smooth, it doesn’t mean the same applies to older devices like Samsung S7 or iPhone 8.

Limited features. While PWAs definitely have more features and access than a mobile website, they are limited in their functions and what features they can have. For example, a PSA can have access to the camera but not to the device's Bluetooth or location.

Limitations in UI/UX design & new tech. While we can optimize it a lot, it's not possible to create a custom design for every OS or device. Plus, a lot of new tech like 3D is not available for integration in PSAs.

Native Mobile Applications

A native mobile application on the other hand is the kind of mobile app that we have been using for over a decade now. These apps are developed separately for each OS ie Android and iOS in this case and almost the entire data set needed is downloaded with the app itself.

The pros of developing a mobile app

More secure. PWAs can also be made secure with the usage of https and other integrations, but with more control over the entire structure, applications provide a more secure and reliable environment.

Smoother experience. Native apps don’t have to load information as we browse, thus the experience is much smoother in transition and not choppy.

Better inter-app connectivity. A native app can easily be used with other apps on one’s phone to create, share and do all sorts of other interactions.

Unlimited features. A native mobile app can be used with a plethora of features. The latest tech innovations like 3D or AR/VR Integration, geofencing, etc can easily be added to the list features for your custom designed mobile application.

Customized interface. With every OS a customized interface can be designed and in terms of user experience features, the sky is the limit.

The cons of developing a mobile app

Increased time & cost of development. Mobile apps need to eb developed and fine tuned separately for iOS & Android, thereby increasing the costs and timelines.

Need to be reviewed by OS store. The iOS App Store & Google Play Store needs to verify and review the app before it can be mae available on the stores.

Need more storage. Native apps use device data to store almost all app-information which can take up from a minor to a substantial amount of data.

What’s the verdict?

Depending on the use-case both a native mobile app and a PWA can be good idea for your business. However, for a truly great & secure user experience, a native app is recommended. However, if you’re low on time and budget, a PWA is a good pit stop before you develop a full native app for mobile devices. An app allows custom experiences, advanced features and farmers brand loyalty, which is an investment for your business in the long run.

With the right kind of tech expert in place, like Valere, you can always innovate your own unique features that will make your mobile application stand apart. To get an estimate on the budget for your app, you can check out our App Development Cost Calculator.


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