Native vs Web App Development
In my prior post, I covered the different types of software apps you, as a business owner, need to be aware of when you decide to go down the app development path. Now you’ll learn some advantages and disadvantages between Native Apps and Web Apps. These advantages/disadvantages will help you make an informed decision when picking the right technology for your app development. For Web App development, I’ll be basing the development on the use of Bubble and not a “classic” full-stack implementation with its front-end and back-end developers.
Native Apps – Advantages
- Access to Apple App Store or Google Play can be a great distribution channel
- Software takes advantage Smartphone, Pad, etc embedded hardware
- GPS, Vibration/Ringer, etc
- Ability to create high-speed games games
Native Apps – Disadvantages
- Need to develop unique version of the app for each operating system, i.e. iOS, Android OS, Windows, etc across Smartphones, Pads and Computers.
- Note: Emulators can be used but they don’t work for most apps. For example, a Native iOS app probably won’t work on an Android Smartphone even with an emulator. Or the features may be significantly reduced on the Android.
- Need for a back-end database hosted on a 3rd party hosting service.
- This is an additional recurring cost beyond what Apple or Google charges.
- Lengthy development cycle time, especially if your app needs a database (see #2)
- If your iOS app is a subscription model, Apple charges 30% for first year and 15% for subsequent years.
- Need to learn multiple programming languages and Integrated Development Environments (“IDE”)
- Swift language for iOS and Java language for Android devices
- Xcode IDE for iOS and various IDE choices for Android
- Typically need team of developers to support front-end and back-end development across multiple platforms.
Web App Advantages (using Bubble)
- Shorter development times (examples of 1/4 the time to “traditional” approach)
- Codeless development
- Less expensive (development can be done with free subscription to start with)
- One code-base with responsive design works across platforms
- Design once and use on iOS, Android OS, MacOS, Windows, Linux, etc
- One-stop shopping
- Front-end (User Experience), Back-end (Database) and Logic all included
- AWS hosting included too
Web App Disadvantages (using Bubble)
- Needs network connectivity
- Not ideal for graphic-intensive gaming
- Support across browsers with responsive design can be challenging
A few closing thoughts between Native App and Web App development. First, based on my experience in getting Mobile App quotes from 3rd party development shops, the sticker price can be high, depending on complexity (i.e. connections to 3rd party services via API, built in payment system, database design, etc). Think high 5-figure to low 6-figure quotes and for only one platform (i.e. iOS vs Android OS). Hosting can be an added expense if you need a database. Chances are that as a business owner, your app will need to store User information which means you’ll need a database.
Secondly, you should consider the app your “crown jewels”. An app can give your company a competitive advantage and be a differentiator in the marketplace. As such, I advise my clients to keep the app design “in-house”. While I work with clients and help them develop their apps, I’m focused on helping them become proficient in developing using Bubble so they can eventually take full ownership of the design. I’ve heard horror stories where app development has been outsourced and when a change to the design is needed (and there will be changes), the 3rd party resources weren’t available to support the design. Doesn’t always happen, especially with reputable companies, but do you want to rely on another company for a critical app in your company?
As a business owner you may not have a lot of expertise in building apps. While there are a lot of different technologies available, this article and the prior one should help you quickly figure out which technology direction makes most sense for you. Generally speaking, my clients are focused on creating Web Apps because of the cost benefits, time-to-market benefits, the flexibility and capabilities the technology provides. Using Bubble is of particular interest because you don’t need to be an software engineer. Like my clients, chances are you have someone on your team who is technical enough to learn and use Bubble to create apps for your business. Having control of your app design in-house (your “crown jewels”) is easier and less expensive with Bubble compared to alternate approaches. Those capabilities can be a strategic advantage to you and a catalyst for your company’s growth.