Native application VS Progressive Web App: which one should you choose?

Published in
4 min readJul 12, 2018


In our last newsletter, we announced the upcoming release of an article about Progressive Web Apps. Here it is! Today, the smArtapps team explains the difference between a native application and a Progressive Web App (PWA), but also in which situation you should pick each option.

A Progressive Web App, what’s that?

The Progressive Web App is an ultra optimized website for mobile, able to use some features of this device, such as the camera. Users access PWA from their browser — Chrome, Firefox, Safari or other — and download its content as and when browsing, hence the name of progressive.

The benefits of PWA

  • PWA allows to save time and money, since it is developed only once, while a native application requires two separate developments: one for iOS , the other for Android.
  • Since you access PWA from a web browser, you don’t have to submit your application in the Stores.
  • Users do not download all the content of PWA before using it. Thus, they access its content much faster, directly via a URL.
  • Since it requires no download, PWA uses only a very small portion of the phone’s memory.
  • If they like it, users can easily share a PWA with its short URL, consisting of only ten characters.
  • The Progressive Web App is a website and, as such, is optimized for search engines. The latest algorithm developed by Google particularly values PWA. In concrete terms, this means that a PWA is likely to appear in the first search results and therefore to be well known by the users.
  • User can register the PWA in his/her favorites. An icon appears on its home screen, as for native applications.

Its disadvantages

  • To offer a PWA to your visitors, you must have an internet connection in all of your exhibition spaces.
  • PWA is not perfectly supported by all web browsers.
  • Progressive Web Apps don’t have access to as many features of the phone as native applications. In particular, it is impossible to use Bluetooth, which is necessary for indoor geolocation, with a PWA. However, PWA allows sending push notifications just like a native application.
  • It is impossible to monetize your application with a PWA.
  • Finally, in terms of interface and user experience (UX and UI Design), Progressive Web App still offers limited possibilities. It does not allow to use 3D for instance.

What about native apps?

Native application is the kind of app we have been developing for almost 10 years at smArtapps. A native app is developed twice: once for iOS, the other time for Android; thus, it works optimally with all types of devices. Users download the app with all of its content from the Store (Apple Store or Google Play). In 2016, native apps accounted for 87% of all mobile traffic.

The native application: still an advantageous solution

  • Although PWA use secure URL in https, native applications remain a more secure and reliable way of accessing information.
  • If it takes longer to install on one’s home screen, native application performs better than Progressive Web App: user navigation is faster, smoother and more enjoyable.
  • A native app is able to interact with other native applications, for instance by offering its users to connect with Facebook.
  • Native app also allows to use far more features than Progressive Web App, for example geofencing: sending a push notification when approaching a geo-localized point.
  • Native applications offer greater possibilities in terms of interface and user experience: games, increased customization…
  • If PWA is indeed very easy to update, so are native apps! If you have opted for the two-step download, you can change the content of your application without re-submitting it in the Stores.
  • Finally, to make your application less cumbersome, it is always possible to opt for streaming content. For that, you can use a html STOP, a webview — a tab giving access to a web page — or buttons present in all types of STOP.

Why should you make native applications your first choice?

For the comfort of your visitors, we recommend the choice of a native application. In addition, in terms of accessibility and ownership by all types of audiences — young people, visitors with disabilities, elderly …-, native application proves a more satisfactory tool than PWA.

Currently, native application presents essential advantages to ensure the comfort and satisfaction of your visitors. However, technologies develop quickly and PWA might very soon do significant progress in terms of comfort and accessibility. Thus, we remain attentive to the latest innovations regarding PWA and continue to test different technologies, with the only purpose of identifying and providing the best experience for your visitors. 👌

This subject interests you; you want to talk about it? Don’t hesitate to react to that article on Twitter, Linkedin or Facebook, or simply send us a message.




smartapps accompagne les sites culturels et touristiques dans l'adaptation de leurs outils de #médiation aux nouveaux usages des #publics. #Musée #Digital #App