Web App vs. Native App? Or Web App AND Native App?

The last month’s blog posts and twitter tweets are popping up about the advantages or downsides of Web Apps or native apps. Just saw a new one again today.

People are taking one side and are passionate about why one technology is great and the other just rubbish. It’s interesting to see and assume the motivation behind it, as it seems that most people just argue towards the specific technology what they use (as a content provider) or offer (as a technology provider).

And here’s a good chart that shows when to use what:  http://ow.ly/nSXed


I am not going to take sides, I rather ask: Does it really matter?

Regardless of whether your content is in Web Apps (which are basically HTML5 pages that appear like an app without being one) or in native apps (that you get from the App Stores), there should be one common theme:

Your content should tell a story. It should excite. It should engage with your reader.


The majority of your readers do not care what technology you use to deliver content as long as there are no obvious flaws (crashes, performance or quality problems). They want content to adopts best to the device and platform they use and give them the best user experience.


Even better (and maybe surprisingly) the two technologies, web apps and native apps, seem to become more and more similar.

Two recent examples:

  • Up until last week it was not possible to distribute web apps via an app store. That’s not true anymore since Amazon opened their app store for web apps: http://ow.ly/nWZX2
  • Today web pages cannot (and therefore neither can web apps) trigger notifications. Well, it seems that Apple will enable iOS 7 and OS X Mavericks to do exactly that: http://ow.ly/nX08K


So, if there is no objective criteria or differentiators as to which technology is best for your readers, why not offer both:

  • Native apps for those who like to browse Apple’s or Google’s app stores and prefer native apps.
  • And web apps for those who use a Desktop browser with Linux, OS X or Windows or prefer web apps on mobile.

It also broadens your audience. Have a look at what Vacature, a Belgian publication, is doing. They use App Studio to offer both, native app and web app:

Which one do you prefer? And why?