17 Jul '13 Native apps are faster than web apps. Ok, what’s the news?

I honestly don’t understand what’s the point of a post trying to convince people that web apps are slower than native apps. I don’t understand it, and I think I have good reasons for that.

#1 Who did ever say that web apps are faster than native ones?

Simply enough: no one. I don’t think it’s ever been a goal of any of the so-called “web advocates” (from Paul Irish to the Mozilla foundation) to demonstrate that web apps are faster than native apps. The real purpose always has been to demonstrate that web apps are – in many cases – better, not necessarily faster.

#2 Who cares about a few tens of milliseconds?

Have you seriously ever even noticed any difference in terms of time between your Gmail web app and any native mail client (e.g. Thunderbird)? In other words, do you perceive the Gmail website to be so much slower than any native client to load and show you your emails? I don’t think so. There must be a reason for why so many people have switched from a native approach to a web based one when talking about reading their emails.

And that reason is, inevitably, because people perceive such well built web apps as much faster and efficient than native applications, which sometimes take longer to open, and are not necessarily faster when loading external data (and that actually represents the vast majority of modern apps, which are constantly requesting and sending data from/to an online server).

#3 The real matter is what do you use them for

While things like Google Documents and the Pixlr Editor are some very good examples of web apps trying to replace traditionally native-only apps like Office/LibreOffice and Photoshop/The Gimp, we all understand that the real point is the usage that you want to have of your app.

For apps like LibreOffice or Photoshop, I would obviously warmly suggest to keep on with the native approach, although a more cloud-oriented approach will definitely be appreciated. But the number of reasons to build a web app as opposed to a native one is way higher, and I cannot imagine a sustainable way – especially for a small/medium company – to have native apps for all the platforms currently on the market, plus those ones coming in the near future.


Yes, native apps may be faster in some cases. But, that’s not always the case. And, even when it is, it’s almost always a matter of millisecond. Servers are everyday bigger and faster, the hardware of the PCs, tablets and smartphones that we buy is being constantly improved by their producers, and browsers like Chrome, Safari, Firefox, and now even Internet Explorer are doing incredibly well in building powerful Javascript engines – see V8, Nitro, SpiderMonkey – to make the web faster and faster.

What’s more, there are enormous advantages when using the web platform to build apps. Cross-usability, cheaper and faster development, not being limited by some crazy App Store rules are only the main ones. And that’s why I will keep on believing that the future is in the web. And the more the OS/browser producers will help and adopt the open web standard, the better will be for everyone, be them developers, companies or end users.