Native, wait...Web App? What?

Did you know there was a difference? Not many people do!

It’s a question we’re asked all the time. “Is it an App”.

Our answer, “Yes it is, but probably not the in the same way you typically think of an App”

Is it an App? Yes, it’s a Web App. A fully responsive Web App. Not an App, like the one you download and install onto your mobile device from an App Store – otherwise known as a Native App. It’s a Web App. It still works on all your devices, it’s still designed to display and function appropriately according to the screen size it’s being used on.

You have a device, it’s connected to the internet, then you can access the Web App. So is it a Website? No it’s not a Website, it’s a Web App. Web Apps are software programs that are designed to function exactly like their Native App cousins, but all directly from your device’s browser (with an available internet connection).

Yes, it can be confusing for anyone who isn’t a software developer. Simple, but subtle differences: A Web App and a Native App are the same except:

  1. Native Apps are downloaded and installed onto your device and therefore have access to the devices resources (like camera and GPS)
  2. If designed appropriately, a Native App can be used offline when there is no available internet connection (it stays saved on your phone). 
  3. Native Apps allow notifications on the device (reminders, previews, prompts are all possible with notifications)

So why not Native App always? Cost and speed are the two main reasons. If the software / App you are developing doesn’t need any of the above three points, then it makes sense to stick with a Web App. Why? For these key reasons:

  1. Native Apps are more expensive to build – often you need whole new teams to build them and maintain them (which is typically passed onto the user’s cost). 
  2. Web Apps are easier to maintain – so expect more updates and features to come faster and of higher quality. 
  3. Web Apps update themselves (you don’t need to go to your App Store to download and install an update, they are also automatically available when accessed).

Bottom Line? Both are good choices depending on the problem you are trying to solve. Campfire is a Web App, we have deliberately chosen to build Campfire as a Web App as it enables us to listen to our partners and solve sector wide problems faster.

Will we ever build Native App? Most likely, but it’ll be when there is a need and when it will help Amplify our Impact of our partner organisations even more.