Resolving the dilemma between native apps and PWAs

The digital revolution aided by the proliferation of smartphones (560.01 million internet users) and data affordability has pushed brands towards either mobile optimization of websites, or the design of native apps to engage target audiences.

While native apps provide a superior experience, brands outside the top 20 of their category in the app store question spending the required amount of money and time to build, manage, and sustain them. Let us understand the merits and demerits of both native apps and the emerging progressive web apps to conclude which of the two fares better. Native apps have been the go-to format since the last decade. Given that they are developed for both iOS as well as Android, they work optimally for all kinds of devices. The advantages of native apps begin with the fact that their load times are unmatched. In addition, they can access mobile functions like Bluetooth, camera, calendar, GPS, contact list, microphone, flashlight etc. Their high performance and functionality essentially allow them to include robust features while delivering a richer consumer experience. In addition, native apps are clear leaders in terms of providing push notifications on both iOS and Android to leverage user engagement. The drawbacks of native apps, on the other hand, begin with the fact that it requires accommodating ‘native’ programming language for both iOS and Android. Hence, designers must create a coded version for each platform, which requires the investment of more time and money to develop. Hence, some brands only have the resources to design a native app for either Android or iOS platforms. In addition, updating native apps is a more laborious task. Native apps are also known to drain the battery and storage of mobile devices, but this can be curbed by efficient coding. Progressive Web Apps (PWA) are the midway between mobile websites and native apps, which is accessed from a web browser such as Chrome, Firefox, and Safari among others rather than app stores. Their content can be further downloaded and pinned to a mobile’s home screen while browsing. PWAs are a cost-effective approach since they are developed only once for both android as well as iOS. Considering they are accessed via browsers, companies are not required to submit them on app stores. This creates several other advantages as content is accessed faster (directly via URL); it uses only a small portion of phone storage and battery; and offers easy sharing via URL. In addition, since PWAs are essentially websites, they can be optimized for search engines as the latest Google algorithm particularly values PWAs. As a result, they are likelier to rank among the first search results and gain recognition. Furthermore, they do not require any updates unlike native apps, wherein users merely have to click the link to PWAs. However, the drawbacks of PWAs are that they do not offer the high quality of interface and user experience (UX/UI Design) that native apps provide. PWAs are not only limited in this respect, but also require an active internet connection always to deliver content. In addition, they fail to access several mobile features. While push notifications are supported on Android, they are limited to browsers such as Chrome, Firefox, Opera, and Safari, and completely unavailable for iOS devices.    A case can therefore be made for each of the two, as the advantages of one mirrors the disadvantage of the other. Companies must therefore weigh the above factors and arrive at a conclusion by keeping user behavior in mind. Furthermore, the cost of investment becomes another major consideration while time becomes the next hurdle. Development can take several months depending on the depth and robust features of app. The design of native apps can cause a lot of back and forth, and delay the launch, while PWAs can be brought to the market in a shorter period of time. With user behavior, cost, and time, the final consideration comes in the form of app use. For instance, if the app plan is simple and straightforward, then PWAs are the way ahead. On the other hand, businesses wishing to offer many features require native apps for faster and smoother functioning. Having said that, these choices may change as time passes considering PWAs are still in their nascent stage. As of now, companies will have to first establish their user behavior, budget, deadlines, and app objectives and thereby decide whether native apps or PWAs match these considerations. They may also opt for both, depending on the same. A dilemma won’t arise if companies have clarity on their objectives, and hence both native and progressive website apps have the power to leverage their brand recognition.  

Artificial Intelligence in Mobile App Development

Mobile apps represent the nucleus of technological revolution thanks to ascending consumer demands for instantaneous access to online information. Businesses have therefore taken a more personalized approach in offering their products and services to consumers. Artificial Intelligence (AI) leverages this, especially in mobile app development, with its ability to analyse vast amounts of in-depth complex data and identity key aspects of human behaviour. The global AI market was worth $7.35 billion in 2018, where the largest portion of revenue was stirred from enterprise applications. The limitless applications of AI are expected to catapult the market to $89.84 billion by 20251. Mobile app development is set to acquire a major bulk of this market worth considering the increasing dependency of the 4.68 billion users on mobile apps. Let us further understand the applications of AI in mobile app development.

Delivering personalized content

Considered as the easiest yet best use of AI in mobile apps is its ability to offer personalized content for users. Its machine learning capabilities help observe user decisions, interests, preferences, and behaviour allowing applications to provide them with preferable suggestions. For instance, Netflix uses AI to provide recommendations and matches according to past views and user interest. Similarly, a fashion retailer can also embed machine learning systems in their apps to showcase better apparel choices according to past shopping journeys.

Automated reasoning

Another powerful application of AI is automated reasoning. This is however more complex as it requires various algorithms working simultaneously for enhanced and on-the-go problem-solving. An example would be Uber’s AI automated reasoning application in discovering the most efficient directions in terms of time, traffic, and even fare for public transport.

Image and voice recognition

AI’s image recognition ability can be used in a plethora of ways by discovering faces and objects in digital pictures as well as videos. Some of these include diagnosing maladies, identifying license plates, and confirming users by their appearances for payments and other important processes. Similarly, AI has the ability to recognize human speech. Apps can be embedded with conversational AI to address consumers’ queries and provide them with relevant information.


Various mobile apps have also included AI-enabled text based chatbots for easy and enhanced consumer service. While it allows human resources to focus on more complex work assignments, it tirelessly replicates human responses intended for consumers in a quick and efficient manner.

UX/UI Personalization

Apart from analysing usage data for service, product, and content delivery, it is possible to personalize mobile app user interface experiences through AI algorithms as well. It helps display offers and information suitable to differing consumer profiles and thereby make the experience more user-friendly. AI’s ability to offer ease in user experience is what keeps audiences coming back to a mobile app. In addition, AI makes it easier to predict buyer behaviour, persona, and their search cycles on the particular apps.    

In conclusion

A vast majority of companies have merely begun to scratch the surface in terms of understanding the possibilities of AI. The integration of AI’s applications in mobile apps will become a key differentiator between companies in providing users with personalized, customized, engaging, and easy experiences. It would be advisable for companies to aboard the AI bandwagon sooner rather than later to acquire an edge over competitors.