All posts tagged ‘Wired Magazine’

File Under: HTML5, Mobile, Web Apps

How Do Native Apps and Web Apps Compare?


Two roads diverge on a tablet screen. One is the path to the native app, the other leads to the open web.

Luckily, you can take both. The latest mobile devices ship with a thoroughly modern browser capable of handling emerging web standards. Beneath that is a modern operating system with access to the magic inside the hardware: the camera, GPS, gyroscope and compass. But if you had to pick one — native app or web app — which would you choose? Your decision will make all the difference in how you approach your design, development and distribution.

The Issues Native Apps Web Apps
Internet access Not required Required, except for rare apps with offline capability
Installation/updates Must be deployed or downloaded Hit refresh
User interface Native apps are responsive and functional Browsers can be clunky, but new advancements in JavaScript like jQuery Mobile are catching up fast
Device compatibility Platform-dependent, hardware-dependent Platform-agnostic, content can be reformatted with CSS to suit any device
Animation/Graphics Fast and responsive Web apps are getting closer, but will probably always lag
Streaming media Few problems with audio and video. Flash works, but only if the device supports it Flash works where supported. Browser-based audio and video are getting there, but still beset by compatibility headaches. Give it a year or two
Fonts Tight control over typefaces, layout Almost on par, thanks to advancements in web standards. Give it six months
Is my content searchable? Not on the web By default
Sharable/Tweetable? Only if you build it in Web links are shared freely. Social APIs and widgets allow easy one-click posting
Discussion and collaboration Only if you build it, and it’s more difficult if data is disparate Discussion is easy, all data is stored on a server
Access to hardware sensors Yes, all of them: camera, gyroscope, microphone, compass, accelerometer, GPS Access through the browser is limited, though geolocation is common
Development Specific tools required for some platforms (like Apple’s). You have to build a new app for each target platform Write once, publish once, view it anywhere. Multiple tools and libraries to choose from
Can I sell it? Charge whatever you want. Most app distributors take a slice, up to 30% Advertising is tolerated, subscriptions and paywalls less so. No distribution costs beyond server fees
Distribution Most app stores require approval. And you gotta wait No such hassle
Outside access to your content No, the reader must download your app Yep, just click a link
Advertising Control over design (though limited in iAds) and rate More choices for design, plus access to web analytics. Rates vary widely

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