Mobile Website, Native App or Progressive Web App…. What’s the difference?
If your website was built within the last few years by an experienced developer, it is likely designed to respond to the screen size it’s being viewed on.
You can find out whether or not your site is responsive by launching it through your phone’s web browser. If your site is responsive, the text and image content will automatically adjust and stack appropriately for your screen. If your site is not responsive, it will translate into a next-to-impossible mess to navigate on a small screen.
So assuming your website is mobile-friendly one might assume they are the same thing. But the fact they both are built with mobile devices in mind is where the similarity ends.
NATIVE MOBILE APP
Apps are downloaded directly to a Smartphone or tablet through an app marketplace like Apple’s App Store or Google Play. A mobile website, on the other hand, requires the user to have access to a Wi-Fi signal or Internet connection.
And the difference doesn’t stop there.
Mobile websites use responsive design to create one website to fit all screen sizes. That means making a lot of compromises and sacrificing user experience. Native apps, on the other hand tend to be faster and more responsive, because the code that runs the app is stored locally on the mobile device and does not have to be downloaded from the Internet to launch.
Plus, mobile apps have some capabilities that just aren’t available on mobile websites.
Here are some important ones:
* GPS. A mobile website doesn’t offer a Google Maps GPS real-time directions option to help users see a map of where they need to go and direct them to a place of business.
* An app does a better job of keeping you connected with your customers. Once your users download your app to their desktop, the app “lives” on their phone, ensuring they are constantly engaged, informed, and entertained with your business right in the palm of their hand. With an app, you can send your customers regular alerts, notifications, updates, and more, directly to their mobile device, reminding them to keep in touch with your business.
PWA – Progressive Web App
The latest development in the world of mobile marketing is the PWA. Let’s look at how PWAs distinguish themselves from native apps.
A native app is written to run on a device whereas a PWA is developed to run inside a web browser. A good example of the difference is with the addictive mobile game 2048. If you have an iPhone, iPad or Android device, you download the app from the app stores, install and play. Or – using any smartphone, tablet, or computer – you go straight to the website and start playing. There’s no need to download the software because it’s delivered right inside the web browser and when the page loads, the app is running.
- Hassle-free experience for the owner – they avoid the procedural bureaucracy, the technical requirements, community guidelines, forms to fill out, and a review process , all in advance of getting an app published to the App Store or Google Play. In addition, every update of a native app, no matter how minor, has to go through the review process all over again. None of this applies to a PWA – you tweak the code, you test it, you push it out live – you’re done.
- Hassle-free experience for the user – they avoid the pesky extra steps of going to the app stores, finding the app, and downloading and installing it before they can use it. This goes a long way to breaking down the barrier of acceptance that goes along with adopting a native app.
- PWAs are designed with mobile in mind. Responsive design allows for write-once-run-anywhere experience: the browser adjusts to the device and screen size, displaying content that looks and behaves accordingly. This makes the PWA the perfect marketing tool, storefront and transaction vehicle all in one.
- Security – PWAs are more secure than normal web apps because they have to run under HTTPS.
Long and short? Native apps and PWAs are here to stay. The choice between them should be made based on the goals and resources for your project.