Progressive Web App (PWA) is a new methodology for building mobile web applications. It’s gaining in popularity, as it offers a great approach to building a web and mobile app in one sitting. It is a truly cross-platform technique, now applicable to the majority of popular browsers, like Chrome and Safari. PWA is an alternative to Electron, and the trend shows that many have shifted from Electron to PWA.
The main trick of PWA is that you are building a website, which the user can transform into a mobile app by pressing the “Add to Home Screen” button on that website.
PWA has already been tested and applied by such companies as Tinder, Alibaba, Flipkart, Forbes, and partially Twitter.
We have gathered some of the most valuable advantages the PWA offers. Let’s have a closer look.
If you want to prove your ideas when developing a new application, it’s always important to make it as fast as possible. Winners are often those who are first. It is always faster to develop a PWA instead of a native one. You can have one single codebase for various platforms.
The less time it takes you to build an app, obviously the less budget you need to allocate to it. In addition, you will have earlier feedback from the target audience, and you will be able to iterate and improve your business idea sooner.
Not only does PWA methodology provide complete cross-platform applications for iOS or Android, but you can also run this app on various platforms, including mobile and PC.
This feature will again save you lots of time and budget in comparison to native development.
If you decide to develop a PWA you will save at least $125, which you normally need to pay to Apple, if you want to have your app on the AppStore ($100/annually), and to Google to have your app on Google Play ($25).
The users will have access to your mobile app functionality directly from your website. They will be able to download the app just by pressing “Add to Home Screen” on your website.
As long as you don’t have business with Apple and Google stores you don’t need their app review. It means that you usually avoid a lengthy review process.
While uploading native applications on stores, you always need to sign them. This process is a bit tricky and takes extra time for generating various keys and certificates, and signing them with your application.
In our opinion, there’s a huge advantage in using PWA methodology, especially if you are looking to expand your audience. You can attract users by offering them a mobile or desktop application, or just a regular website.
As we have already mentioned, you don’t need to have your app on the AppStore and Google Play for users to be able to download it. To install the app, users just need to open the website built with a PWA methodology, and press “Add to Home Screen” button. Alternatively, it’s possible to create a pop up that will offer to install the app right after the website uploads. However, this feature is now available only for Android devices.
iOS users will need to make 3 simple steps to install the PWA: press “share” icon → press “Add to Home Screen” → press “Add”. On their home screen the users will instantly see the app’s icon that looks as good as other native apps icons.
Your PWA gets updated with new features right after the website reload. As long as a PWA works as an optimized website, it’s not required to publish a new version in order to add new features or fix bugs. Users will get all improvements automatically after reloading the application.
PWAs can be found via search engines and linked through the web. Users can find your app just by googling its name. Google has published an article about some of the best practices to make an app indexable and linkable.
The last advantage of PWA on our list is much lower data consumption than in native apps. Thanks to PWAs’ nature, they offer a significantly decreased initial load for return visitors who have installed the app. It’s all because of a simple concept called the service worker, a script which runs in the background of a browser and allows you to interact with a site even when you’re offline.
Along with all the advantages that the PWA offers, there are also some limitations you need to take into account, when choosing technology for your app. For example, if you decide to pause the application, it will always reload when coming back, because the state between sessions will not be kept. Another disadvantage is that the app has the limit of 50MB of offline files on your device. Also, you can’t lock the orientation using a PWA. And one of the main things, that might turn you away from PWA is that there’s no way to use some native features, like 3D Touch, and FaceID. However, you can still use geolocation data, camera and others.
Summing up, PWA is definitely a good choice if you have limited time and budget to launch your new product, or if you want to have it as a test stage prior to the fully-fledged native or hybrid app.