After going through the pros and cons of Web Apps, it’s now time to talk about native apps.
Native apps are specifically designed to run on a device’s operating system and machine firmware, and typically need to be adapted for different devices.
They are written in specific programming languages, depending on the target OS. For example, iOS applications (iPhone/iPad/iPod) are written in Objective-C; Android apps are in Java; and Windows Mobile apps are developed in Visual C++.
As they are specifically developed for a certain mobile device (smartphone, tablet, etc.), native applications are installed directly onto the device. Users typically purchase and download these apps through an online store or marketplace such as The App Store, Google Play, Windows 8 Store or BlackBerry World.
Of course, even native apps have their own pros and cons. Let’s take a look at these.
Native App Pros
Unlike webapps, native apps offer the amazing opportunity to send out push notifications to your app’s users. Push notifications are a great marketing tool to promote special offers, announce a special release or simply keep your users updated on your latest news. One of their greatest benefits is that they allow you to communicate with your audience even when they’re not using your app.
Sounds cool, doesn’t it? Find out more on push notifications in this post.
With native apps you can fully use all the hardware sensors installed on your device, such as NFC, GPS, camera, accelerometer, magnetometer, proximity and brightness sensors and many others.
This is definitely one of the greatest benefits offered by native apps. By getting your application published on the major stores (The Apple App Store, Google Play, Windows Store, BlackBerry World), you’ll have the chance to reach a wider audience and monetize your app. Be careful though! Getting your app published on online stores requires you to follow specific rules and your application to be compliant with each marketplace’s guidelines. Find out more about app stores’ guidelines in this post.
Moreover, you can join mobile-specific ad platforms such as AdMob e iAd to integrate banners into your app and get new revenue streams.
Once users have downloaded your app on their devices, it will be possible for them to access and use your application both in online and offline mode. This represents a great opportunity that cannot be offered by Web Apps.
Native App cons
Supporting multiple platforms requires maintaining multiple code bases and can result in higher costs in development, maintenance, pushing out updates, etc. For this reason the cost of a custom native app could fall between 4,500 and 5,000 euro per operating system. Unless of course you opt for a reliable do-it-yourself crossplatform tool like AppsBuilder!
If you need to quickly update your app’s GUI or often modify app usability, maybe native apps are not the best fit for you. Keep in mind that development time could be quite longer than that required for Web Apps, as well as app store approval processes can significantly delay the launch or update of your app.
Once again, this problem can be avoided using a crossplatform app creator tool like AppsBuilder. Thanks to its cloud-based platform, you will be able to udate your app’s contents and layout in real time with no need to resubmit your app to the stores.
Approval time can vary from store to store. For example, the approval process on Android marketplace is almost immediate; while on Apple it could require up to 20 days, and very often such long waits can result in a rejection!
It could be possible to list a few striking examples of applications that were rejected because not compliant with Apple’s policy, such as The South Park app, Obama Trampoline, Google Latitude and My Shoe just to name a few.
As they are specifically designed to run on a certain device’s operating system, native apps can be used only on the OS they have been developed for. In other words, if your app has been developed for iPhones, you won’t be able to run it on Android or Windows 8 OS.
When should you opt for a native app?
- If you want to give more exposure to your brand by getting your application published on international app stores.
- If you’re planning to develop game apps.
- If you are interested in monetizing your application.
- If you wish to have full access to your device hardware sensors, which cannot be used on HTML5 Web Apps.
What the future holds
So, to cut a long story short, how do you choose between native apps and Web Apps? Well, the decision depends on several factors, such as your business goal, the audience you wish to reach, the functionalities you need and so on.
However, remember that you don’t necessarily have to choose between one of them. Many famous companies, like Facebook, keep maintaining both native app and Web App.
You never know which trends will prevail in the mobile industry, so – just to be on the safe side – it is a very clever idea to provide your users with both applications and let them free to pick the one that suits best their needs!