If you own a smartphone, you probably spend a major portion of your workday flitting through a range of apps. Right from booking a ride to work through a cab aggregator, ordering brunch through a food delivery app, and maybe even sending flowers and chocolates to someone you care about! There is an app for almost every product or service you can think about. However, have you wondered what the future looks like for responsive apps?
Yes, you guessed it right! PWA or Progressive Web Apps are the next steps towards the evolutionary development of mobile responsive web apps. In the blog that follows, we will take a deep dive into the world of progressive web apps, why businesses should consider investing in them, challenges, and benefits, as well as a comparison between PWA, responsive websites, and native mobile apps.
Let’s begin with unraveling the concept behind conceiving progressive web apps.
What are PWAs or Progressive Web Apps?
More of a concept than an actual technology; simply put, it employs the power of additional features such as web app manifests, push notifications, offline support, and service workers in a pre-existing mobile responsive web page/ web app. So a PWA feels like a native app whilst being available over web browsers to a user.
It can be accessed over a web browser or a mobile device and functions in spite of being offline or in a low network area and does not need regular updates. Wondering how that happens? Well, a progressive web app always stays updated, thanks to a service worker. So a service worker is basically a script that runs in the background and helps synchronize data as well as display push notifications which can be pinned to a user’s home screen.
Characteristics of a progressive web app
The following are the distinguishing characteristics of a PWA or Progressive Web App;
- Responsive UI design: While this is a given, it is pertinent to delve into it. PWAs can be adapted to work on multiple screens, such as tablets, desktop devices, and smartphones.
- Independence from connection: By employing service workers, the app can function offline and reconnect with the network when available.
- App UX comparable to Native apps: Though not native applications per se, their UX is quite comparable and sometimes indistinguishable from a native application by deploying service workers.
- Linkable: The beauty of these apps is that these apps can be shared directly on social platforms and are discoverable via search engines using a simple URL. Therefore the apps need not be listed on an app store as users can send apps to each other.
- Installable: Along with accessibility, the installability of these apps is also cross-platform. Users can install apps in browsers by deploying shortcut icons to the app URL.
Another cool and lucrative aspect of PWAs is their reliability, which allows them to run even when in a poor network or no network area. A PWA offers speed and reliability even when there is no network thanks to service workers that can prefetch resources.
Why should businesses consider switching to PWAs?
With growing app fatigue from consumers, it is important to deliver UI, and UX experiences that improvise on just functional websites to deliver fast loading times for digital experiences. This is what you stand to gain from switching to PWA;
- Super fast loading: As per a recent Google presentation, PWAs offer a <1 second median load time, rendering them 4 times faster with ten times less data. Therefore devices that deploy PWAs can enjoy quick loading speeds without losing the premium experience of using an app.
- Cost-effective: When businesses invest in building a stellar web application, which can be cross-packaged across multiple devices and channels they save time and money to craft apps separately for each device.
- Super easy to discover: Since PWAs are built on the web, companies with PWAs are definitely more searchable and discoverable all the while ranking on SERPs.
With each advancement comes its own set of challenges, let’s delve into those as well!
Existing challenges for PWAs
While the benefits of building a progressive app are multiple, the challenges also need to be looked into so that one can make an informed decision.
- The lack of app store traffic: While this may not be a challenge for long owing to its growing popularity, PWAs are not given the same status as other apps in the Apple App Store. To add a PWA to iOS, you need to click twice to incorporate the app on the home screen, in comparison with one click on Windows and Android devices.
- All key engagement features are not available across devices: Despite the enhancements in features that can be accessed by the web platform, there are still some features that are not accessible across native devices. For instance, sensors and fingerprint IDs are not yet accessible, even though cameras and GPS are available via PWAs. As technology evolves, access to different features will improve.
- A prevalent knowledge gap: There still exists a notable knowledge gap on how best to leverage a PWA. There is a marked sense of familiarity with the concept, its prerogatives, and offshoots that will be fixed as brands like the Washington Post, Tinder, and Pinterest have switched to PWAs to realize better ROIs and visibility for their business.
Comparison Between PWA, Responsive Websites, And Native Mobile Apps
Here’s a tabular comparison of features offered by progressive, native apps and responsive websites.
|Functionality||Progressive Web App||Responsive Website||Native App|
|Indexable by search engines||Yes||Yes||No|
|Works across all devices||Yes||Yes||No|
In summary, it can be agreed upon that PWAs or Progressive Web Apps are definitely the next logical progression towards responsive web technologies. With a plethora of benefits such as indexability by search engines, shareability, discoverability, and ,of course, the inherent security factor since they are served using HTTPS, investing in a progressive web app may be the best decision you make for your business. Are you looking for professionals to handle all your web development needs? We at Mavlers are more than happy to help you!