Progressive Web Apps have become quite the buzz phrase in the web development world over the past year. Because of this, many people keep asking, are Progressive Web Apps the future for websites? That is a good question and as a website design company, we wanted to give our insights on the topic.
What are Progressive Web Apps?
Progressive web apps are one of a kind in that they are similar to a standard mobile app but are based on modern web capabilities. Basically, they are a combination of the two technologies that was devised by an engineer at Google named Alex Russell. Consider it as a mobile app that is delivered via the web. They have been in use for around two years while so far, they have not been used in large numbers, progressive web apps have been adopted as a useful option for startups, smaller businesses, and recently a few bigger brands.
While a mobile app (or native app) runs as its own piece of software, a progressive web app is alike to a website that can support features such as a home screen icon, push notifications, geolocation, an offline mode, splash screen, background synchronization, and can even access media features on a device such as the camera, audio, and video.
As many businesses are now presently focusing on customers on mobile devices, the question becomes how best to do this? Basically, there are three alternatives: build a responsive website for both desktop and mobile users, build a mobile (native) app, or build a progressive web app (PWA).
Pro’s of Progressive Web Apps
Easy access – Native mobile apps require to be downloaded and installed. A PWA can be seen with a Google search bar and works on-demand without using up memory or data on the mobile device. Possible even more relevant is that a PWA works on all devices while a native app has to be designed for both iOS and Android operating systems.
Economical – Progressive web apps are faster to create and update, therefore the cost is less than a native app.
Offline content – You can reach content offline with a progressive web app. Native apps cannot reach data while offline.
Security – As most sites are now built using HTTPs, you can easily originate a PWA in this secure environment which is a big plus if you intend on having users information contact details, credit card data, or other sensitive data.
Easier to modify – When you update a standard mobile app and you make an adjustment you also must reach the app store and work with them about the update or modification. This process can take some days or a week. With a PWA you can just get a fix or update and then it is life.
Mobile-first approach – Another big advantage of a PWA is they are created on a mobile-first approach for connecting with customers. Twitter, Pinterest, and Starbucks have all transitioned to successful PWA’s in addition to the native apps and have seen improved ad revenues and engagement on the PWA’s.
Con’s of Progressive Web Apps
Speed – While there has been progressing with PWA’s as to how data is cached along with providing Java scripts and service workers to run independently from the main thread, if you have a very passive or weak connection then there can be difficulties. The Accelerate Mobile Pages Project that Google has been behind had certainly helped with PWAs, but they aren’t always going to be as quick as native apps. However, this is one perspective that could soon change.
Missing features – There are Some mobile device features that native apps can use but progressive web apps cannot like alarms, phonebook access, making improvements to system settings, and access to hardware sensors.
Cannot use platform features – Native apps are suitable to use specific benefits from either the iOS or Android platforms like Apple’s ARKit, native graphics API’s, or Google’s Visual Core.
The Bottom Line
The bottom line is that quite a few well-known brands are initiating a move from native apps to PWA’s and after seeing at the positive features versus the negative features it is easy to assume why. Are Progressive Web Apps the future for websites? We feel that websites will constantly have a place in the world as long as desktops are connected but PWA’s are surely making a case to replace some native apps on a business level because of lower costs and more advantages to the users.
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