Web Apps vs. Native Apps; What are the Differences?

Clay Kauffman  -  August 18, 2021  -  ,  

Web Apps and Native Apps are basically two different products, that while they are similar in many ways, differ in certain areas where their capabilities are concerned. If you’re debating which you should develop, we consulted the experts to help you better understand the differences, capabilities, pros, and cons of the two.


Native Apps: Designed For a Platform

“Native apps are designed specifically for a platform, such as iOS for Apple's iPhone or Android for Samsung's Galaxy devices. They're downloaded and installed through an app store, and they have access to system resources like GPS and the camera. Apps for mobile devices are installed and operated on the device itself. Popular smartphone apps include Snapchat, Instagram, Google Maps, and Facebook Messenger.” (Naomi Stone)

Web Apps: Designed for Web Browsers

“Web apps, on the other hand, are accessed through a web browser and adapt to the device you're using to see them. They don't need to be downloaded or installed because they aren't native to a particular operating system. Because of their responsive nature, they resemble mobile apps in appearance and functionality and this is where the misconception comes.”

Naomi Stone, Development Manager at Room Service 360  


“Since developers design native apps to adapt to the device, they run faster than web apps; therefore, they have a better user experience. Native app creators release regular updates to fix bugs and to add features, unlike web apps where updates happen automatically in the backend.” (Harriet Chan)

App Development

“Webs apps are usually free to use and can efficiently operate on mobile devices since they are not entirely dependent on the device's operating system. Additionally, they are built using server-side languages, CSS3, HTML5, and Javascript. On the other hand, native apps development uses individual languages such as Objective-C (iOS), Visual C++ (Windows Mobile and Java (Android). Using specified languages requires app design, deployment, and building versions compatible with a device's OS.” (Harriet Chan)

Functional Differences

“Native apps design allows them to use your device's built-in hardware systems such as access to camera, messages, or phone contacts. In comparison, a Web app's design is built to function on browsers such as Chrome or Safari and will not get access to your personal information or hardware systems.”

Harriet Chan, Co-Founder of CocoFinder

Operation, Speed, Development

Native Apps

  • Native mobile apps are directly installed on the smartphone and can mostly operate even without an internet connection. 
  • Native apps have better battery backup and faster speed.
  • As native mobile apps are developed separately for a specific operating system (mostly iOS or Android), they have access to more functionalities and are more customized.
  • Developers meet very few bugs during native app development process. 
  • Native apps have a better user experience as they’re tailored towards a specific operating system.
  • Native apps require more financial resources.
  • Native apps are easy to find in the app stores and require less effort on brand awareness.

In Contrast, Web Apps:

  • Web apps can be developed simultaneously and work mostly everywhere (both on iOS, Android, and other operating systems).
  • Web apps cost less and are easy to maintain as they operate in all mobile browsers and are reusable from platform to platform.
  • Web apps can be released at any time and in any format as they don’t require approvals from app marketplaces. 
  • Web apps can have limited device features.
  • Web apps are less intuitive and interactive.
  • Web apps are slower.
  • Unlike native apps, a web browser is required to run web apps.
  • Marketers should work harder on the brand awareness of web apps as are they’re less ‘advertised’ in app stores.”

Srbuhi Avetisyan, Business Development Specialist  at CodeRiders Software Outsourcing company

Mobile Phone vs. Computers

“When deciding whether to develop a web app or a native app, one main question to answer is how often your users would use mobile phones for solving problems or completing jobs and how often they would use their computer to do the same. In simple terms, if they use their computer more often then decide on a web app. Conversely, if they opt for their mobile phones, then develop a native app. The best way to understand that is to talk with potential customers. However, do not ask them what type of app they would prefer. Talk about their problems, behaviors. Do some customer development. Complete some tests and market experiments before launching.” (Jesse Thé)


“In terms of other things to take into consideration, web apps seem to be cheaper to develop in terms of tools required, web apps have a lower entry barrier, web apps are more universal (can be built for both mobile and pc). With web apps, you are normally not tied up with a payment provider (if it is paid), and you can iterate a little bit quicker (meaning you do not need to wait for approval). Today it should not be a big deal, although you sometimes hear stories about problems with app store approval.”

“Native apps have access to more APIs and the main one is notifications which is your main tool for building engagement. You can use app stores as a way to promote your app. Payment solutions are integrated and very easy to use. This is especially good for SaaS apps, where you can order subscriptions in a few taps. You can also build native apps to work offline. Native apps usually look better and might be easier to design. You can always try to build something with a hybrid approach if that suits you better.”

Jesse Thé, president & CEO of Tauria

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