Currently, there's almost 6,000,000 apps available across the leading app stores. With this prevalence of apps, we often hear the phrase 'all mobile apps will be iOS or Android'. While native apps are incredibly useful and have their place, they are not the only way users can interact with services/applications on their mobile devices. Despite many apps being available, research suggests users may only use a handful of apps they download. Web-based Progressive Web Apps (PWA's) are becoming an increasingly viable solution to many mobile-based applications. They are less costly and less time-consuming to develop and are more widely available.
Now we're not saying native Apps aren't useful for heavy-use everyday tasks like communicating; apps like Messages, Messenger and Phone Apps need to access the OS directly so it makes sense they are native Apps. But beyond the basics, is there really a need for anything else to be a native App.
PWA's are designed to combine the best features of mobile apps and the mobile web such as speed and offline usage, without downloading anything.
A PWA is an all-in-one solution for a site/app to be delivered across all devices without the hassle of app-store distribution - an enormous barrier to entry for the client, the developer and the end user. At their base they are a webpage, but in their design they feel like an app.
PWAs are causing us to reconsider the reasons behind developing native apps and rethinking how we design and deliver sites in a mobile-first world. Don't forget Apps were a short term fix to a short term problem - connectivity. In our 4G, always on wi-fi world this is not an issue.
The gap between the ability of a native app and a PWA is rapidly shrinking with PWA's now being able to work offline, send notifications and integrate with native device functions. Consumers can even save the PWA to their homescreen which means it loads faster next time. Google encourages developers to build PWA's to an established standard so that when it's met, Chrome will prompt the user to add the PWA to their screen.
Likewise, interacting with the device (ie through the camera, GPS, files, etc) used to be the exclusive domain of native applications. Nowadays though, improvements in Internet browsers allows us to interact with the device without the need for a native app. The combination of improved connectivity and browsing experience are providing a solid rationale for the rise in development of Progressive Web Applications.
The rise of PWA's has highlighted the importance of making websites and apps correctly to perform on mobile, and to an extent has pointed out how bloated and slow websites have become. For example, Twitter iOS app is over 122mb; the PWA is just 0.6mb. Internet performance is all about speed - the smaller the size the quicker the download.
Three Reasons to use a PWA
Google Developer provides three simple reasons Progressive Web Apps are more effective ways of engaging with your users:
- Reliable: They load instantly
- Fast: They respond quickly
- Engaging: They feel natural
So why should I use a PWA?
The web has been, is, and always will be the world's most popular mobile operating system. It was around long before iOS and Android existed and it will certainly be around long after it. The next wave of software companies (and software services) need to focus beyond native iOS or Android apps to consider a more responsive and adaptive delivery of their service. The challenge here is to make PWA's render and work well in mobile browsers. What this brings is the opportunity for effective response or adaptive design.
At DCODE, we are experienced in not only helping you to assess what sort of design you need and implementing it in the most effective way, but to build custom and effective web based software platforms. We have worked with a range of clients in both areas leading to great success for them and their business objectives. We would love to discuss with you further how we can assist your business in implementing a Progressive Web App.
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