PWA

Progressive Web App

Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) are becoming increasingly popular. According to Google, PWAs are the next big thing in the development of the mobile web, and it will not be long before they are everywhere. In fact, there is a good chance that you have already used a PWA before, because companies with large websites already integrate all manner of PWA technologies.
In this case you will find out more about Progressive Web Apps, why they are important, and what the advantages of PWAs are in comparison with native apps.

 

What is a Progressive Web App?

If you have ever had an app developed, then you will know how complicated this can be. It may even have caused you sleepless nights. The process is complicated because there are so many choices to make. Will your app be for IOs, Android or both? What platform will you develop first? How often does the app have to be updated? How do you make sure it keeps attracting new users and isn’t made obsolete by new technologies?

Progressive Web Apps make app development much easier. To put it simply, a PWA is a website that behaves like an app. It combines the look and feel of an app with the simplicity of a website.

 

Even better, using modern browsers you can install a PWA on your home screen, send push messages and even access these online. Some developers predict that PWAs will signal the end of the native app1.

The essence of a PWA is that you make it as easy as possible for your customers to reach your content. You improve the user experience and so ensure happier customers; and happier customers are better for business.

 

 

 

The significance of the PWA

There are a number of steps between finding a native app in an app store and actually using the app. Research reveals that an average of 20% of users2 are lost during each step involved in installing and using a native app. Installing the app is the first barrier, but opening the app and creating an account are also examples of steps that cost users.

This is not a problem with PWAs. When a user finds your PWA they can use it directly; there’s no hassle with downloads and installations. Only if they use your PWA more often will they be offered the option of downloading the app and receiving push messages.

The way a PWA is constructed means that a single app can be used on all platforms, which not only saves on development costs, but on maintenance, too.

 

Characteristics of a PWA

First, let’s look at the difference between a native app and a PWA. A native app is a self-contained program on your smartphone. You can compare it with software on your computer such as Photoshop or Word.

A Progressive Web App is basically a website that behaves like a mobile app, comparable to Google Docs or Netflix. You can do everything you can with a native app, but you access it using your web browser. This saves space on your hard drive, as you don’t have to install or update anything.

But PWAs are different in other ways as well:

 

A PWA is progressive

The biggest disadvantage of a traditional app is that it is only suitable for a single platform. This is not a problem with PWAs because they are progressive. This means that the app downloads the content from the website first and then starts adding more layers and functionality depending on the browser and the user’s internet connection. This makes a PWA suitable for all platforms (although some older browsers may only display the most relevant information).

A PWA is responsive

You are bound to have heard of responsive web design. This entails building a website that automatically adapts to the device being used to visit it. We have all visited websites that require you to zoom in enormously to read the content on your smartphone. These are examples of non-responsive websites, which are happily becoming increasingly rare. PWAs have a responsive design so they work on any device.

A PWA also works offline

It is difficult to visit a website without an internet connection. Many apps, on the other hand, can be used if you have no or only a poor connection. Google’s Service Worker enables PWAs to be used offline by caching PWA data in advance so that it can be accessed even when there is no internet connection.

The advantages of PWAs

If you are planning to develop an app, it is important to understand the advantages of PWAs first. Here is a summary.

  • Piggyback the smartphone features. Smartphones become increasingly smarter. With PWA you can use these new features like GPS, camera, NFC or motion sensors.
  • Access anywhere. PWAs are based on HTML5, which means they can be used practically anywhere, anytime. There are never any hassles with lack of storage, large downloads, or incompatible devices. The everyday use of the app is also easier to monitor than the use of a native app.
  • Optimized for search engines. Unlike the content of native apps, PWAs are easily indexed by search engines. This means that users who are looking for your content or specific characteristics of your PWA can easily find you using Google or other search engines. PWAs are also much easier to share, because a PWA has a dedicated URL.
  • Easy to update. Native apps must be updated by the users. This is not a problem with Progressive Web Apps; the developers can add new updates and functionality whenever they want. The next time the user opens the app they will be able to enjoy the benefits of the new functions, without having to install an update. This also means that security updates are independent of the user.

https://medium.com/javascript-scene/native-apps-are-doomed-ac397148a2c0

http://blog.gaborcselle.com/2012/10/every-step-costs-you-20-of-users.html

The advantages of native apps

Although PWAs are the future, they are not yet better than native apps in every way:

  • For example, native apps are still usually slightly faster than PWAs. This is because native apps are not dependent on having a browser between the app and the user, which causes a slight delay.
  • Using your phone for payments is becoming increasingly popular. This is done using Near Field Communication (NFC). Even tough you can use the NFC-chip with PWA, for now, you can’t use it for payments.
  • Another advantage of native apps has to do with mobile payments, which are becoming increasingly popular. These payments make use of Near Field Communication (NFC), something PWAs are currently still unable to do, as they can’t communicate with a mobile phone’s NFC chip. This means that PWAs cannot be used to make mobile payments.
  • Native apps are also ‘smarter’. They can use a phone’s sensors and so adapt automatically to the lighting conditions, for example, or switch off the screen if the phone is laid on its front. PWAs cannot use these smart features yet.
  • And, although we explained above that users can be reluctant to download and use native apps, the use of app stores is not necessarily a bad thing. App stores guarantee the quality of the apps and you can – in most cases – be sure that the apps in them are safe.

 

 

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Contact Hendrik Jan Hofstede


Hendrik Jan Hofstede

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Would you like to know more about the potential of Progressive Web Apps for your company? We have plenty more to tell about PWAs, so please feel free to contact us!

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