In today’s digitally connected world, an overwhelming 98% of UK households use a smartphone. With home computer usage not even coming close, the smartphone is the go-to method of connection for many people.

When going about our daily tasks that involve seeking out information, communicating online, shopping or making orders, we can head to our phone and use a web-portal or a native app. At first glance, these two options may appear very similar. However, when looking more closely, it’s the native apps that provide many more advantages when used on your smartphone.

In the social housing sector, the advantages of a native app are highly valuable. Below we explain why.

Native means they’re built for purpose.

Native apps have been developed specifically for use on a mobile phone, meaning they can harness all the powers and functionality a mobile device offers, which we’ll explore in more detail below. In the social housing sector, a native app will allow tenants to access features specifically designed for purpose, for example, scheduling home repairs, processing payments and two-way messaging, as well as keeping updated via newsletters, tenant surveys and community activities.

Tenant’s web-portals can be used on a smartphone, and many are designed to be mobile responsive. But, ultimately, they were intended for use on a laptop or desktop, so you’ll often find them a little clunky and less user-friendly when accessed from a mobile – not ideal when a tenant needs to report an urgent incident or needs access to information fast.

Intuitive, powerful and familiar

People are used to using apps on their phones. From social media platforms, such as Instagram or Facebook, to food delivery or taxi services, such as Deliveroo or Uber, these apps feel familiar and are intuitive to use. Their high-performance functionality and powerful response to data requests provide a high-quality user experience. This superior performance translates to native apps designed for tenants, too, offering convenience, ease and satisfaction to their overall home rental experience.

In contrast, consider your experiences with web-portals. As a non-native mobile application, sometimes the buttons and links are a little tricky to access or locate, or perhaps the pages take a few seconds longer to load. These may seem like minor issues, but they can be off-putting or frustrating for the tenant, particularly in the highly time-pressured world in which we currently live.

Increased functionality

As mentioned above, native apps can harness all of the functionalities that a smartphone offers. These include:

  • Push notifications – get tenant updates as they come through, even when not in the app
  • Biometrics – make logins quicker and easier via face recognition or fingerprints
  • Geotagging – report incidents with ease as your phone identifies your location
  • Bluetooth connectivity – allow other devices to communicate with the app via your phone
  • Offline functionality – still access some of your data when offline or out of network coverage

Many of the above benefits are either unavailable or more difficult to use via a web-portal.

Recognition from Apple

In 2015, Google developed Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) to improve the user experience of web portals and access some of the advantages above. However, as they are not genuine, native apps, PWAs still have a number of critical downfalls. For example, they cannot access Bluetooth and perhaps because they originate from Google, they are not recognised by Apple, so they cannot be downloaded from Apple’s AppStore.

For people seeking to carry out their daily digital activity from a smartphone, native apps are undoubtedly the best tool. Designed specifically for mobile use, they offer many advantages over web-portals, providing a far better user experience.

These advantages are highly applicable to landlords and their tenants too. A mobile-first strategy is crucial for landlords in the social housing sector, enabling them to offer their tenants a convenient, powerful, easy-to-use communication solution.

Optus Homes’ native app is an excellent tool for landlords offering tenants a method for managing their home rental account. Integrating seamlessly with existing housing management solutions, it provides a cost-effective, efficient and high-performing tool for the social housing sector. Please get in touch with our team to find out more.