Alright, alright, slow down Zuckerberg. You have your app idea that will change the world, so you can cross off the most difficult task of coming up with a new app to develop. Now the actual work begins. While considering the best route to get your app to distribution you realize a big question you need to answer; do you develop a native application or do you stick with a webview app? While both options host a variety of benefits, the one you choose to develop will have a big impact on the overall cost and functionality of your app.
To Go Native or Not
So you may be wondering at this point what we mean between a native and webview app. By native application, we are referring to an application, more times than not, that has been directly installed onto an operating system (iOS, Android, etc) from an application store (Apple iTunes, Google Play). It is also written in the operating system’s native software language.Inversely, a webview application is one that does not need to be directly installed onto an operating system, instead of using the web browser to run specific functions. “Generally, the look and feel are very similar between the two options. This is done to maintain a consistent UX across multiple platforms,” says Wesley Farnam, CMO at The Idea People. “Often times, larger companies will design and maintain both variations of the same application to meet users where they are, no matter their preference.” More often than not, however, companies do not have the luxury to fork over enough cash to develop both options, let alone maintain them both. That leads us toward asking, which is better? Unfortunately, there is not a straight answer to that question. Both options offer a variation of costs and benefits that may sway your company one direction or the other depending on your specific situation.Before weighing out the pros and cons and making that fancy t-chart you have grown to love, first consider your specific situation. Understanding where you are in the process, and considering your financial situation, along with what features you need to have, will help impact your overall decision and avoid spending extra time and money.Questions to Ask Yourself:
What is my overall budget for this project? How much can I afford to invest upfront to get my application developed?
How do I plan to monetize my idea once the application is developed? Will I be generating revenue from initial downloads or from advertising? How much control over cost do I require?
Which devices are most important to my target customers? Is use concentrated with one device and OS or is my target audience spread consistently across multiple devices and OS’?
What features will my application have? Does the desired functionality require special device features or will generic device features be enough? How important is speed vs. performance? Is it okay for my application to rely on internet access or will it need to run indefinitely?
Depending on your business objectives, target audience, financial situation and technical requirements, you may answer these questions in a variety of ways. Once you fully understand the answer to those questions, you can begin to choose which option is best for you.
The Pro’s and Con’s of a Native Application
Ability to use all of the device’s features such as the camera, accelerometer, etc. for a variety of technical functionality.
The ability to charge a price for downloading the application with ease via already popular marketplaces such as iTunes or Google Play, in addition to advertisements.
Runs separately from a web browser.
Typically safer for end users and more trusted because of the increase in quality control and customer reviews.
Requires various native programming languages for each OS being accounted for instead of one standardized framework.
A reduced profit margin from initial sales as a result of splitting the download price with a marketplace.
Users are not required to update to the latest version resulting in users on a variety of versions.
The Pro’s and Con’s of a Webview Application
Web Applications are written in standard web frameworks of the developer’s choice and do not require various native programming languages for each OS being accounted for.
The ability to run advertisements and subscriptions.
All users are on the same exact software version.
No need to download new software.
Quicker to market without the need for marketplace review and approval processes.
Limited to generic device features such as geolocation, media, and current orientation providing a limited amount of technical functionality.
Limited ability to charge download prices for webview applications.
Often times harder for the end user to find Webview applications
After reviewing the pros and cons of each option, one may stand out as the clear choice for your objectives. “With technology rapidly advancing, we may see these two options merge into one congruent option,” suggests Farnam. “Already, advancements are being made for webview applications to access more specific device features, as we are seeing with Google.” For more information on mobile app and web software development with The Idea People, please reach us at 704-398-4437 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.