Many consider Progressive Web Apps or PWA for short as the next big thing of web development. It allows users to provide a mobile-like experience through a website. PWAs are fast, fresh, responsive, connectivity independent and of course progressive. Now, it is not only supported by Google but several big names like Instagram, Twitter, Forbes and others are already using it.
Progressive Web Apps are the websites that took all the right vitamins – Alex Russell
PWA is not any specific technology but a set of practices which allows any website to function as a mobile application. PWA gives such a seamless experience that users are unable to tell the difference between a mobile app and the website. Furthermore, like any other native applications, accessing the camera, push notifications, home icon and others are also possible with PWA.
Here, you can read more about Progressive Web Apps and how it is different from normal websites.
Any website to be called as a Progressive Web App, it must be:
- Progressive: Works regardless of browser choice
- Connectivity independent: Work in offline mode without internet
- Responsive: Must fit any type of devices regardless of different screen size
- Fresh: Up-to-date
- Safe: Secured via HTTPS
- Discoverable: Identifiable as an application by the search engine
- Linkable: Can be shared easily via URL
- Installable: Allow users to keep their PWA on the home screen by adding the icon without the requirement of visiting the app store
- App-like-interactions: Must provide app-like navigation
- Re-engageable: Use of push notifications for making easy user engagement
Advantages of using Progressive Web App
1. Gives Mobile App-like Experience
It’s a fact that the users prefer mobile applications; as worldwide downloads have significantly increased in the last few years. These applications are better than browsing websites from the browser. Native mobile applications are fast, attractive, engaging, user-friendly and can operate offline.
When it comes to PWA, they provide a similar experience by combining the look and feel of an app, and the website. It has a similar design and settings of mobile apps combining with the capabilities of any website. Because of all this, PWAs are considered superior to any website or an application.
Developing a Progressive Web App is significantly cheaper than native mobile applications. Normal mobile applications are platform specific and need to be developed separately for Apple, Android or others. This can take up to $20k – $80k for developing an app for all the platforms which all the start-ups and small businesses can’t afford.
Contrary to this, a progressive web app can be developed for all the devices regardless of the platform thereby, reducing the total cost of development. PWA can be easily developed around $6k – $10k which works on all the platforms such as Android or Apple or any other.
3. Offline Mode
In a certain condition when there are network issues or you don’t have internet connectivity, accessing the website is not possible or is limited. In the case of PWA, you can easily browse all the pages in low internet connectivity or even with no internet access just like any other mobile application. PWA saves the cache of the website which makes it possible for the users to access all the content in case of no poor or no connectivity. These apps can even work when servers are dead.
4. Low Data Usage
When it comes to a developing country, data becomes expensive or pricey compared to developed countries. Here, PWA makes life easier by consuming fewer data than any native mobile application. When compared, PWA consumes only up to 500kb of data in respect to 10mb of data consumed by any native apps. It is an additional benefit for the people living in places where buying data is costly.
5. Push Notification
Another advantage of a progressive web app is the option of push notification. This allows developers and owners to send quick messages to their users about new alerts, newsletters, content, product, update or anything else.
Just like notification from any mobile application, these are also displayed on the notification section of your phones. Because of push notifications, users can easily interact with the app leading to a great personal experience. Push notification becomes the game changer for providing creative solutions for marketing any product, blog, e-commerce sites, companies, etc.
You can read this blog describing Progressive Web App Push Notification in detail.
This technology is significantly faster because of its ability to provide optimized content, saving caches, stylesheets and others. Additionally, unlike mobile apps, PWA doesn’t even require any significant storage space on the mobile. It saves a lot of the device space and improves the performance too. As a result, this enhances the user experience as well as user retention rates.
7. No App Store/Zero Installation
All the app stores have certain rules and conditions which developers have to follow so that their app can be accepted by them. With PWA, there are no such restrictions as you are in charge of the entire process. It eliminates all the process of visiting web store for app installation saving both time and data. You can directly download the PWA to tour home screen.
Furthermore, developers can make the change or update the code any time and push it instantly for the users. In the case of users, they can directly install updates without going to the web stores as updates are automatically downloaded and updated once the app is relaunched.
8. Good for SEO
Low development cost, data usage, storage space and others are not just the only benefits of PWAs. It can also boost the searchability of your apps by search engines such as Google, Bing or any other. Because of its faster loading time, it has the potential to get quickly indexed on these search engines. This can be a great SEO strategy to boost the website’s visitors.
9. Can be Added on Home Screen
Similar to any mobile applications, you can add the icon of the progressive web app to your home screen. This allows the direct access of your app with the icon similar to the native applications. However, this you can do by even bookmarking any website and adding it to your home screen. But you can’t open your bookmark by going offline. Whereas, you can access PWA from the icon even in the offline mode.
10. Enhanced Security
The major requirement of a website to be called a progressive web app is that it must be secured by HTTPS. Enabling HTTPS provides data safety and reduces the risk of security issues or data tampering.
Already impressed by Progressive Web Apps? Here, is a complete guide teaching you all the concepts of PWA in detail.
Disadvantages of using Progressive Web Apps
Well, after reading all this, I must tell you that PWAs are not just about all the good things. It has some disadvantages too and are directly associated with its advantages.
1. Limited Functionality
No matter how good they are with replicating native mobile apps, still they lack some essential features. They have limited access to vicinity sensors, NFC, fingerprint scanner, Bluetooth, advanced camera controls, geofencing and others. Additionally, its usage drains your mobile’s battery faster than any other native applications.
2. Traffic Loss
Progressive Web Apps eliminates the need of visiting an app store for downloading the app which in turn saves the time and internet data of the users. But on the downside, it also affects the traffic which normal applications gets from an app store, therefore, causing significant traffic loss.
3. iOS Limitations
Despite so much progress made in this technology, still, there are certain limitations of using progressive web apps on iOS. As of now, not all the features that work on Android devices are available for iOS devices such as push notifications and the shortcut for the home screen.
To conclude this article, I would say that indeed progressive web apps have several advantages over normal websites or a native application. Yes, there are some disadvantages too but its benefits successfully overshadow all of it or most of it.
When it comes to its two sides, PWAs may cause traffic loss from the app store but it also enhances the SEO. It does have certain functionality limitations but also provides offline access. PWA may have certain iOS limitations but is also responsible for saving device storage and improving the performance. In the forthcoming days, it’ll be interesting to see whether PWAs make further advancements or not by improving all the limitations.