Wrapped Up in Apps: The Pros and Cons of Web Views in Mobile Development

Considering web views for your mobile app? Learn the drawbacks (limited features, data challenges) and discover the advantages of native development with Flutter.

April 23, 2024
April 23, 2024
updated on
April 23, 2024
Guest Contributor

The world of mobile apps is constantly evolving, and businesses are always looking for ways to improve the user experience. One approach that has gained popularity is the use of web views wrapped within native apps. But is this a shortcut to success, or a path fraught with limitations? This article will delve into the business value of  transitioning from wrapped experiences to native app development using frameworks like Flutter.

Our discussion begins with a common scenario: a company launches a mobile app that feels more like a mobile website. This can happen for a number of reasons, but the core issue lies in the decision to wrap a web experience within a native app container. While this approach may seem appealing at first glance, it can lead to a number of drawbacks that hinder both the user experience and the ability to gather valuable data.

The Allure of the Wrapper

There are several reasons why companies might choose to wrap a web view in a mobile app. Development can be faster and cheaper, especially if a well-developed website already exists. This can be a tempting option for businesses looking to get a mobile presence up and running quickly. Additionally, web views can leverage existing web development skills and codebases, potentially reducing the learning curve for development teams.

Cracks in the Facade

However, the convenience of web view wrappers often comes at a cost. Here are some of the key disadvantages to consider:

  • Limited Functionality: Wrapped web apps often lack access to native device features like GPS, cameras, and offline functionality. This can significantly limit the capabilities of the app and hinder the user experience.
  • Performance Issues: Web views can be slower and more sluggish than native apps, especially on older devices or with complex content. This can lead to frustration for users and a higher uninstall rate.
  • Data Visibility Challenges: Analytics data from web views can be difficult to track and integrate with native app analytics. This makes it harder for businesses to understand how users are interacting with the app and make data-driven decisions.
  • Compromised User Experience: The look and feel of a web view can often clash with the native design of the app, creating a disjointed user experience.

Beyond the Wrapper: The Benefits of Native Development

Moving away from web view wrappers and towards native app development using frameworks like Flutter can offer significant advantages:

  • Enhanced Performance: Native apps are typically faster and smoother than web view apps, providing a more responsive user experience.
  • Full Feature Set: Native apps have full access to device features, allowing for a richer and more interactive app experience.
  • Improved Analytics: User data from native apps can be easily tracked and integrated with other analytics tools, providing valuable insights into user behavior.
  • Seamless User Experience: Native apps can be designed to look and feel like an integral part of the operating system, creating a more cohesive and enjoyable user experience.

Making the Right Choice

The decision of whether to use a web view wrapper or develop a native app depends on several factors, including the specific needs of the app, the available resources, and the desired user experience. However, for businesses looking to create a high-performing, feature-rich app that provides valuable data and a seamless user experience, native development is often the better choice. Frameworks like Flutter can further streamline the development process and create apps that are truly native to both Android and iOS.

By carefully considering the trade-offs between web view wrappers and native development, businesses can make informed decisions that lead to successful mobile app experiences.

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