Native apps versus web applications
Native apps and web apps are both useful tools for users and worthwhile endeavors for developers. A native app works with a device’s built-in features and is downloaded from app marketplace while web apps are accessed via the internet.
From a user’s perspective, native and web app can look and work very much the same.
If a developer is interested in creating a user-centric app, he may focus on native mobile app. A developer may wish to focus on creating a web app if their app functionality is application specific. In order to widen the reach of their products and offer the best possible user experience, developers create both native and web applications.
A native apps is installed directly onto the smartphone and can work in most cases, with no internet connectivity depending on the nature of the app. Native apps are installed through an an application store such as Google Play Store.
They are developed specifically for one platform and can take full advantage of the device features and work much faster by harnessing the power of the processor and can access specific hardware like GPS. Native mobile apps can also incorporate gestures. They can also use the device’s system.
On the other hand, web apps are not real applications; they are websites that in many ways, look and feel like native applications, but not implemented as such. They are run by a browser and typically written in HTML. Users first access them as they would access any web page.
Today as more and more sites use HTML5, the distinction between web apps and regular web pages become blurred. Web apps require internet access and their operation are dependent on the quality of internet signal or the speed of wi-fi broadband you are connected to.
There are many factors that play a part in your mobile strategy such as your team's development skills, required device functionality, offline capability etc, all of which must be taken into account. Therefore, the decision to build either a native or web mobile app should be based on your business goals. Before jumping into app development, consider:
Your budget and resources
Complexity of features for your app
Quality of user experience you want
How fast you want your app to be developed