People consume a lot of content these days on their portable devices. When interacting with a smartphone, the majority of users interact with a mobile application rather than a mobile-friendly website. Businesses that are thinking ahead understand that they must adapt to the reality that people prefer to use native mobile applications over mobile browsers.
If you have ever wanted to create a mobile app, then you probably already know that mobile app development is a really daunting environment to navigate when you first start out. It's going to pose all different kinds of questions like
What programming language should you use to create the app?
- How do you get your app working on all Android and iOS devices?
- Should you use a framework to create the app, and if so, which one?
- Once you've created the application, how can you publish it to the relevant app stores?
All of these different questions are enough to discourage you because it can be challenging to know where to begin. Progressive web apps, or PWAs, are a modern solution to the problems mentioned above. These are essentially web apps that run in the browser using web technologies, but they behave and feel exactly like native mobile apps.
In this article, you'll learn more about progressive web apps, their characteristics and how they compare to native apps. Let's get started.
What is a PWA?
By combining the use of a device's native features with the broad audience reach provided by mobile-first websites, progressive web applications serve as a bridge between native and web apps. This means that a PWA exists on the web but utilizes smartphone features such as the camera, microphone, push notifications, and much more in the same way that a native app would. And, just like a native app, you can install it on your device, which means many features will continue to function even when you are not connected to the internet.
Characteristics of a PWA
Web applications and websites can be regarded as PWAs when they demonstrate the following characteristics.
- Discoverable: PWAs and their pages can be found using a search engine.
- Installable: PWAs can be made available on the device's home screen.
- Linkable: You can share a PWA or a page using a URL.
- Network independent: A PWA can work offline or deal with and cope with a poor network connection.
- Progressively enhanced: PWAs are still usable on older browsers.
- Responsively designed: A PWA can work on any device with any screen size, such as mobiles, tablets, TVs even a refrigerator.
- Secure: To protect sensitive information from unauthorized access, the connection between the app, the user, and the server is secured.
Trying to follow all of these principles is complex, and that's why frameworks like Gatsby and Next have become quite popular because they give you many of these characteristics out of the box.
Comparison Between PWA and Native Apps
Native app development takes longer, and you must create multiple versions, one for each operating system. PWAs are easier to build because you only need a single code base to run on a variety of devices, and with responsive design, you know that the UX will look good on a variety of screen sizes. PWAs are much easier to spread. With a native application, you must submit it to each store, and you may be required to register and pay a fee for each developer account. PWAs avoid the store requirements because all the user needs is a browser and the URL to the PWA.
Updates to a PWA also happen automatically without any approval from the store, but the store's requirements do prevent low-quality apps from being published. Customers are much more confident in using and transacting with an app that is published in a store. Search engines such as Google can't index native apps or their pages. Native applications are only available through the store or the store's website. A PWA is similar to a website in that it and its pages can be indexed by search engines such as Google.
PWAs are more secure than standard websites because they must run over HTTPS, which means that the exchange between the client and the server is unaffected. Native apps, compared to PWAs, have far more options for incorporating additional security measures. Users trust a native application more than they trust a URL because the native application must meet the app store's security requirements before it can be published.
When it comes to performance, both are adequate, but the native app outperforms. The code of a native application runs much faster because it is closer to the operating system and can take advantage of hardware acceleration, resulting in a much better overall customer experience. When it comes to functionality, the native app has an advantage because it can access more of your device's features. While PWA technology is gradually catching up with native apps, there are still limitations to the functions that PWAs can provide.
Why Should You Consider Using A PWA
Building PWAs as a core part of your digital channel strategy gives you many advantages. Working from a single code base, you can deploy new features immediately and automatically without users needing to install updates from an app store.
PWAs' advantages include their speed, reliability, and engagement. They're quick because they can reuse content after the first load, resulting in faster load times by caching a shell that loads instantly from your mobile device and dynamically displays any new or updated content. They are reliable because they work online, offline, or when users have a poor connection. As a result, parts of your PWA that do not rely on an internet connection will continue to function normally. PWAs are engaging native apps that draw user attention because they are easy to use and have far more features than mobile websites. Users can easily install your PWA on their smartphones. With access to more powerful features in those devices, they can provide immersive user experiences at a fraction of the cost of developing native applications. PWAs are the future of many organizations. Companies are now opting for the PWA model in order to bring digital transformation to their businesses and provide their customers with a consistently fast and near-native app-like experience.
To summarize, PWAs are still a developing technology with tremendous opportunities. They can be a great option in some cases, but still, they are not considered a widely recognized solution. Many businesses may decide to wait and see if progressive web apps are right for them. Whether you choose a traditional mobile app or a progressive web app, make sure an experienced team handles your development project.
At Solwey, creating cutting-edge mobile applications is our bread and butter. We provide design and development services that allow you to create the software you need. With our efficient and comprehensive process, if your company needs to develop a mobile application, you'll be ready to launch your project in no time. Get started immediately by scheduling a call. We look forward to hearing from you soon.