back to article So you want to save energy? Ditch web apps and go native, boffins say

Eggheads at Vrije Universiteit (VU) in the Netherlands recommend that people with Android devices use native apps rather than web apps when viewing popular sites like ESPN, Pinterest, Spotify, and YouTube because native apps are more energy efficient. That may seem obvious to some but you know what they say: the difference …

  1. pPPPP

    Web versions are designed to run badly. They want you to use their app because they can track you and spam you with ads. Why would they make it easier to use a web browser with an ad blocker?

    LinkedIn is a good example. It's barely usable in a browser, and uses a huge amount of resources, on a mobile or desktop device. In the app it runs better but you can't turn off the annoying video posts.

    Then again, YouTube runs fine and has no ads.

    A lot of apps are just front ends to web pages anyway.

  2. Jellied Eel Silver badge

    Stating the bleeding obvious

    "Based on our results, we advise users to access internet content using native apps over Web apps, when possible to optimize the battery life of their devices," the boffins state in their paper.

    Well, duh! Being a simple engineer, this should be another kick in the cloudybollocks. So iwant to move a pic from an iPhone to a PC. iHave to power up the radio, send the pic to Apple, then send it back instead of just copying it across to PC via USB or WiFi.

    So they're saying if we want to run apps on smutphones or laptops, we should run them locally and save on network, transmission and remote processing energy costs? Who knew? If only we could..

    1. Clausewitz4.0 Bronze badge
      Black Helicopters

      Re: Stating the bleeding obvious

      "So iwant to move a pic from an iPhone to a PC. iHave to power up the radio, send the pic to Apple, then send it back instead of just copying it across to PC via USB or WiFi."

      I setup an small webserver in my local network and then upload from iPhone to PC, no Apple / international routes involved. OpenBSD + httpd + PHP. Or Linux + Apache + PHP.

      1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

        Re: Stating the bleeding obvious

        I setup an small webserver in my local network and then upload from iPhone to PC, no Apple / international routes involved. OpenBSD + httpd + PHP. Or Linux + Apache + PHP.

        Yep, but still needlessly complicated. Decades ago, that could be done with just by crossing pins 2 & 3, and 7 straight through. For simple tasks like that, no servers are needed, which is also true for a lot of stuff that enforces cloud dependencies.

        1. heyrick Silver badge

          Re: Stating the bleeding obvious

          With the exception of the old iPad (too proprietary) and RISC OS (too ancient), I usually just toss files around using Bluetooth. It's slow but fairly trouble free. Even the XP box can get in on the act.

          1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

            I don't understand the problem. I just the USB 3 connection on my phone, connect it to the PC, and file browse for I what I want.

            But I have a Samsung. It just works.

            1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

              I just use KDEConnect as well as Total Commander with the Network plugin. :-)

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Stating the bleeding obvious

          you do realise they are talking about garden walled useless apple shit!

          1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

            Re: Stating the bleeding obvious

            you do realise they are talking about garden walled useless apple shit!

            Yep. It's an ancient going back to the client-server vs P2P or thick vs thin clients. If all I want to do is communicate from A-B, why introduce C, if that's unnecessary? I've also seen 'standalone' apps where the client is effectively a web interface talking to a web server on the same device. I guess that's convenient to develop, if the app is both single and multi-user, but I'm not a dev. It just seems to me that it can create needless bloat vs maybe a thinner client.

            The bigger problem is still forcing server functionality into a 'cloud', eg the discussion a few days ago about why a 3d-printer needs the 'cloud' to print instead of a local app/server.

  3. Tom Chiverton 1

    But the web browser size/load is shared amongst all the sites, where as each app is it's own size/load. They seem to have missed this point.

    1. Simian Surprise

      Last I checked this wasn't the case for Electron, and a lot of "native" apps are based on that, so in that case a perfectly fair comparison.

      (I was shocked to find out that not only is it running Chrome, but it's even downloading the entire webapp JS etc. every time you launch it -- no cache!)

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Difference between science and screwing

    The difference between science and screwing that it not just the mean published, but the variance as well.

    The sampling not specific but random.

  5. alexeistepanov

    Interesting, web app uses twice less network traffic. What if someone smart would calcualte how much energy savings this brings not just on a single mobile device, but across the entire data path: starting from 4G/5G base station and then up through all the routers/switches etc...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "Twice less"??? When did "half as much" become redundant? I'm downvoting for that.

      (grumpy old man grumbling)

      1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

        Pretty much when "existing" was replaced with "extant". You see that word everywhere now, especially when people want to seem educated. I fail to see what's wrong with existing. Especially since you can say that it existed at one point, but no more. How do you that with extant ? It exted ?


        Get off my lawn !

      2. abend0c4

        Have you perhaps considered that English might not be the OP's first language before launching into this froth of intolerance?

    2. druck Silver badge

      Overlooking the poor phraseology, he has a good point about the additional network traffic scaled by the number users.

      1. heyrick Silver badge

        Seems weird to me that a web app uses half as much network traffic, compared to an actual app. What the hell is the actual app doing? Loads of telemetry?

  6. Captain Hogwash

    Re: web devs being incentivized to reduce bandwidth usage

    Web apps not having access to as many slurpable parts of the phone sounds more like it.

  7. gedw99


    This will make web apps light and yet feel like mobile apps .

    It’s really taking off and so simple

    1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

      Re: This will make web apps light

      Until the framework jockeys get in on the act and overload it all with slurp, ads and other assorted crap.

  8. Pascal Monett Silver badge


    I fail to see how a web app is globally more privacy-conscious than a native one. Facebook is going to screw you whatever you use. If El Reg had a native app, I doubt that it would be so impolite.

    Know who you're working with. How you do so is less of an issue.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Privacy

      Not more privacy conscious , just easier to block. An app will ask permission, and then refuse to work if you don't give it permission. A web app or just a website accessed via the browser directly, can be restricted. Consider how many apps ask for many and broad ranging permission outside the scope of strictly necessary but won't work at all if you refuse any of them. As the article said, there's little to no network level blocking available on mobile phones but web browser level blocking is possible.

    2. Trigonoceps occipitalis

      Re: Privacy

      If The Register had a web ap it would have to be The Best. The commentariat would be all over it and 30 seconds after it was released there would be the first report "El Reg Slurper" if that is the case. Know your user!

      When a South American country launched a radio ham satellite there was a theory that it was cover for some sort of spy satellite. I can think of nothing more likely to be blown than hookey radiation purporting to be for the benefit of amateur radio enthusiasts.

    3. nightflier

      Re: Privacy

      A web app only runs when you are using it. My DDG browser clears all data upon exit or after 30 minutes of inactivity. Native apps run in the background, constantly monitoring you. Whenever I need a ride sharing app, I install it, get the ride, and then delete it. If I leave it installed, it keeps spamming me with messages in the notification area.

  9. dch0ar


    The authors are not scientists as they appear not to have visited the lectures on precision and accuracy. Their figures are given tremendous accuracy. How certain are they that the numbers are correct?

    1. heyrick Silver badge

      Re: Accuracy

      We plugged all our information into Excel and this was the result...

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This whole 'You have to be connected 24/7' thing

    is just a scam.

    Being connected 24/7 costs money even if you have an 'unlimited' contract for your network. Power and other stuff all cost money.

    This constant 'verifying [insert product name here] is a real PITA. The same goes for cars especially Tesla's. Because they are online all the time, His Majesty Elon the 1st can simply wave his hand and your... (ok, you might have paid money for it but it is not really yours) wonderful computer on wheels is bricked.

  11. mark l 2 Silver badge

    "They say that while it may not be realistic to expect that developers will choose between native and web apps solely on the basis of energy consumption and performance, web apps should serve mainly for user acquisition and not platform interaction."

    By just having their apps website as a place to get people to download the native app as they suggest to save on a tiny bit of power, means for people like myself who prefer to access applications when I am at home from my laptop or desktop PC rather than on my phone I usually cannot, as the developers rarely produce native apps for Linux and often not even for Windows. They just target Android and iOS.

  12. Tron Silver badge

    How about...

    POTS versus Phone plugged into always-on fibre versus always-on mobile phone.

    Remembering that it's the POTS that they are getting rid of.

  13. ecofeco Silver badge



    How dare they defile and debase the holy phone app? They are unclean! Infidels!

    Oh wait, I'm with the heretics. Uhm, excuse me, just gotta call.... ------------------------------>>>>>>>>>>

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    are they paid by data slurpers and privacy intruding assholes by any chance?

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