Progressive Web Apps vs. Native Mobile Apps: Which Is Best for Your Use Case?

As mobile becomes increasingly important for business, you might be planning on building a new application for a mobile audience. Before you start development, you’ll have an important decision to make—will you build your app as a progressive web application (PWA) or a traditional mobile app? At Aptera, we have extensive experience building both types of apps for clients, and the decision usually comes down to which will better suit the needs of your application. To help you decide which might be a better fit for your business, we sat down with two developers who work with these technologies every day, Software Architect Chris Rottinger and Senior Software Developer Mike Richards.

Progressive Web Apps

Progressive web applications are applications that run inside a web browser like a website, but that offer the experience of a mobile app. You can even add wrappers to your PWA to make it available in an app store if you wanted to give a more traditional feel to the experience. Because they run in web browsers, progressive web apps are more naturally cross-platform and don’t require as much specialized knowledge to develop—most web developers could build a PWA.

Security and feature updates are easily pushed in progressive web apps either by having them update automatically, or for larger changes, prompting a user to make an update. This can be a benefit over the more time-consuming process of updating a mobile app. The vulnerability of a PWA is that a web browser would make a change that causes something to break in the web app, but these changes are usually minor, and most users consistently keep their browsers up to date.

Mobile Apps

A mobile app is what you traditionally think of when it comes to apps on your devices—these are the apps you download from the Apple App Store or the Google Play Store. The ubiquity of mobile apps is a plus for building your app this way, as most consumers will be familiar with this format and readily know where to go to download your app.

Mobile apps can be built natively for Apple or Android platforms, or you can use cross-platform development tools like Xamarin or React Native to develop for both platforms using a single codebase. Mobile apps are capable of storing large amounts of data and even accessing that data for offline use.

A potential drawback to mobile apps is that it takes longer to push an update out to all users. Typically, your update will need to be pre-packaged and then submitted to the app stores for approval. Then users will receive a notification that their apps have an available update, but it requires users to keep on top of their updates.

Making the Choice

When it comes down to deciding between a PWA and a mobile app, first take a look at the requirements for the application and what you need it to do. If you have a heavy application with lots of graphics, offline data storage, or a lot of phone interaction, then a traditional mobile app will probably better suit your needs. It’s also important to look at your available team. If your developers are stronger in web than mobile, you might want to use a progressive web app to keep their learning curve less steep.

Want to talk it over with someone? Reach out to Aptera and our talented team members can help you deliver the best application for your business.

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Nikki Dent

Nikki Dent

Nikki is a technical copywriter for Aptera. With a bachelor’s degree in writing from Saint Mary’s College, Notre Dame, Ind., she has been honing her craft of marketing copywriting for the past five years. In her role at Aptera, Nikki enjoys learning and writing about the technology and strategy at work across the company.

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