Why the Native App is Still King of the Hill

User Experience Design

With the vast majority of consumers increasingly on the go, there aren’t many companies on the market who haven’t created a mobile app featuring their products, or at the very least a version of their website that’s easier to view on mobile devices. There are a number of options when selecting a platform for mobile offerings, but the two most common today are native apps, which are built to work on a specific operating system (OS), and HTML web apps, which are designed to work across a number of systems and browsers.

The obvious pitfall to native apps is that they’re more costly and time-consuming to produce, since separate applications need to be built to work with each OS. So why not build exclusively in HTML? Well, for much the same reason that pickup trucks and SUVs routinely outsell mid-size sedans in the US. With so many options open to them, consumers prefer to use a product that is catered specifically to their needs, rather than one that is meant as a one-size-fits-all solution. While a web –based app can offer some impressive functionality, the native app still has the edge at the end of the day, and here’s why:

It’s Got Its Running Shoes On

Despite what Aesop would have you believe, slow and steady doesn’t win the race in the world of mobile technology. Web-based apps rely on Java and HTML, and the speed at which they’re capable of running depends on the browser being used. Native apps, on the other hand, are streamlined for speed. According to one study, native code runs up to five times faster than Java, leaving its web-based competitors solidly in the dust.

Works Well Without Supervision

While HTML has the ability to store data offline, its capacity is only about 5MB. As a result, web-based apps have little to no functionality without web connectivity. Most native apps, on the other hand, are still able to function, if on a somewhat limited basis, with no connection. This can make all the difference to travelers on long flights with no WiFi or consumers shopping inside a store with spotty coverage.

Plays Well With Others

When native apps are installed, they typically request permission to access features on smartphones that enhance their functionality, such as the camera, GPS, Bluetooth, or contacts. This close collaboration with your phone’s features makes it easier to find stores in your area selling the product you’re looking for, or dialing a business at the touch of a button. Web-based apps don’t have this capability, which effectively locks them out of the treasure trove of features available on smartphones, hampering their usefulness.

It’s a Quick Healer

The advantage to having an app custom built for a specific platform is that it takes a lot of the guesswork out of troubleshooting. On the chance that an error or bug occurs, technicians will have several more factors to consider and eliminate as the source of the problem with a web-based app than they would with its native counterpart. What type of device is being used? Which OS is it running? What settings has the user selected? Having different apps to work with each software platform allows developers to zero in on the cause of an issue (and subsequently resolve it) far more quickly.

It’s Got Curb Appeal

Native apps are installed locally onto a smartphone’s memory, which means they’re front and center on the home screen and accessible with one tap of a button. This visibility and ease of access ensures that the consumer is going to make more use of the app, as opposed to a web-based program, which would need to be opened in a browser and accessed via a link or bookmark. An app’s designated icon is a powerful reminder of its availability, which will encourage consumers to use it more often.

Comes With Its Own Publicist

The two major players in the field of mobile apps, Apple and Google, have web stores that allow users to search for and download the software they want. This built-in publicity allows users to search not only by specific company names, but by the type of app they’re looking for. Users can also view reviews and ratings, allowing them to choose the most reliable and highest rated apps (which will hopefully be yours). In addition, the app stores enable instant delivery of updates and fixes, smoothing out any bumps or errors painlessly, leading to better customer satisfaction.

There’s no shortage of choices when it comes to selecting a method of delivery for mobile app development. In some circles, such as industry or device-specific software that appeals to a select group of users and doesn’t rely on word-of-mouth to generate interest, a web-based app may be the contender to back. But as far as the purposes for which most users turn to mobile applications, such as shopping, social media, and mapping locations, the native app is still the heavyweight champ to beat.