Progressive Web Apps (or PWAs) are local apps which behave in the same way as traditional Native Apps. They can be added to home screens, send push notifications and even work offline. With several advantages over mobile browsers and Native Apps, PWAs are the next step forward in the mobile experience and many leading names have already started using them.
What are Progressive Web Apps?
PWAs are ultimately very similar to Native Apps – they look and feel the same, but there are some key differences between the two. Unlike Native Apps, which require downloading from individual app stores, PWAs are downloaded directly from the developer’s website.
This means that (so long as the app is compatible with all browsers) only one version of the PWA is required, rather than the multitude needed for a Native App (one for each different app store). It also allows the app to work easily across all devices and means that rather than having to redirect clients to their respective app store from a website, they can simply download a PWA there and then.
In real terms, PWAs do work differently to Native Apps. While, Native Apps are downloaded directly to the user’s device, PWAs combine Internet access and securely stored data to provide a service that works all the time – even when offline. Objectively though, there is no difference in function; both run in a similar manner and achieve the same end results – the running of the app.
Benefits of PWAs
“If PWAs have the same end results as Native Apps, then why should I use them?” This is a good question, but PWAs have several advantages over other mobile options.
Trimmed Down: Because PWAs utilise the Internet, rather than using their own dedicated space, they don’t require as much storage on a device as a Native App. Pinterest’s PWA is just 150KB, while its Android app is 64 times larger, at 9.6MB, and its Apple counterpart is 56MB; over 350 times the size!
Faster: Trimming down the size doesn’t just mean that there’s more space on a user’s device, it also means that the app runs and updates more quickly and requires less data than a Native App.
Did you know: 53% of users will abandon a site which takes over 3 seconds to load, so minimising load time is crucial.
Development: Native Apps essentially require a new version building for each different app store, while PWAs only need one cross-browser-compatible version writing. Additionally, there are no requirements to meet from assorted third-parties, so the app won’t need adjusting to suit different devices.
Cost Saving: Having a Native App can be expensive, with various fees for hosting them through each different app store. PWAs are downloaded from the app owner’s website, so avoid charges.
Work Offline: PWAs always have certain data is ready to use, allowing users to access the app whenever they like. This means that unlike other options, PWAs can be used anywhere, at any time, even without an Internet connection.
Safer: Because PWAs operate through https, there is a greater level of security around them, meaning there’s less chance of your personal data being accessed without permission.
Adaptable: PWAs don’t need to have updates run through the “gate-keepers” of different app stores. This means that any changes a developer makes to them will happen instantly, rather than having any delays and users will always have the most up-to-date version of the app.
The Future of Apps
So, PWAs have many advantages, for both the developer and the end user. But how do we know that they are the way that mobile browsing is moving? Well, a few household names have already quietly adopted them, to great success…
Twitter recently introduced the Twitter Lite PWA with the aim of providing faster service, with lower data consumption. Switching to a PWA has reduced their users’ data consumption by up to 70%, enabling an increase of 75% in the number of Tweets sent.
Forbes developed their PWA to increase user engagement, with fantastic results. Their PWA is more than twice as fast as their previous mobile website, doubling the average session length for each user. Engagement levels through their PWS are now at 100%, with advert visibility increased by 20%.
The clothing brand George upgraded their site to a PWA to enhance their users mobile experience. This change reduced their page load duration by 3.8 times! This has lowered their bounce rate, with shoppers now spending longer on the site overall and a 31% increase in customer conversions.
Uber has moved from a Native App to a PWA to boost speed and functionality, even in areas with poor Internet connections. Taking up just 50KB, their PWA is lightweight and takes less than 3 seconds to load, even on a 2G connection.
Progressive Web Apps are changing the way that mobile browsing and apps work, shedding the excess weight of Native Apps and providing developers freedom to build and update their apps their way.
Faster and smaller than other solutions, PWAs are a more user-friendly option, increasing app usage and customer engagement, without the additional drawbacks and costs associated with alternatives.
An upgrade for developers and end users alike, PWAs are the next step in mobile browsing. With many leading companies having already adopted them, now is the ideal time to build a PWA of your own!