The growth of the smart phone industry the past few years has truly been astounding. It seems as though every day there is a new model out there to try (and hopefully buy). While the amount of choice might seem like a blessing, keeping track of all the phones and their operating systems (iOS, Android, Windows, etc.) poses quite a challenge.

Most people out there only need to know about their phone. However for you, as someone trying to make their idea come to life on these devices, there are some things you should know to help you navigate the landscape. We will focus here on deciding between a native or web app.

Native vs. Web App.

Native app: A native app is one that is downloaded and installed on the mobile device.

Web app: A web app is an HTML5, JavaScript, CSS app running in a mobile web browser.

Factors to consider for these apps.

Skills to build

Native: Requires strong knowledge of Objective C (iOS), Java (Android), and C# (Windows Phone), finding developers with the necessary experience is difficult and expensive

Web: Knowledge foundation is HTML, JavaScript, and CSS, finding strong developers should be easier and more cost effective


Native: Number of apps you need to build directly relates to the number of platforms you need to support (most companies must support at least iOS, Android, and probably Windows 8/Phone)

Web: Can be opened on any device with a browser, phone, tablet, or anything in between, differences in mobile browsers will require extensive testing

Features and Performance

Native: Full access to the underlying mobile platform, usually very fast and polished

Web: Limited (but growing) access to device features and APIs, perform well but still behind native app performance

Publishing to App Stores and Updating Apps

Native: Regardless of the platform, native apps are published to an app store with strict rules for acceptance, updates require new version to be downloaded

Mobile: Doesn’t need to be published to any store (accessed by the browser), updates are very simple

How do I decide?

Sometimes a native app makes sense and other times it might be a web app. In general, if video game type speed is not needed and there are considerable financial/time constraints, a web app will probably make more sense.

We know this process can be difficult, so if you’ve got an idea and you’re not sure what your next steps should be, reach out to us and we’ll help you navigate.

(See this article for more information.)

Brendan Hennessy

Co Founder & CTO

Never stop building. Brendan manifests this passion, first seen in his love for Legos, by creating and building web products. He relies upon his formal background as an engineer to solve problems. His experience in both front- and back-end development is invaluable to making ideas come to life.

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