PWAs: The apps of the future…

…and the future is now.

Progressive web apps (PWAs) have been hyped up as an app dev panacea for quite some time, and if you ask us, it’s well deserved.

We believe in PWAs becoming the industry standard for app development as we speak. Why?

Well, just about every feature that a PWA provides is either a solution for troublesome issues with native or hybrid apps or is an improvement upon the features and functionality of what we think of as those “standard” sites. Google does a great job ​highlighting success stories of PWAs​.

Before we go any further, nothing in life is perfect, except for the smile on your puppy’s face when it’s playtime. PWAs are no exception, and while their feature set is a godsend for many users and developers alike, here are just a few of the issues PWAs that still bug us until they’re tackled:

● Higher battery usage than native apps
● Missing out on the App Store exposure/traffic
● Can’t take advantage of device hardware capabilities to the degree native apps can

Now that the bad is out of the way, keep this in mind – PWAs exist to put the user ahead of all else.

If you’re reading this, you’re likely not a developer or engineer yourself, so let’s break down why companies like Alena Solutions love building progressive web apps for our clientele when the project involves an app component, and what makes them different from native mobile apps and
hybrid apps.

If you’re looking for a brief history lesson on PWAs, ​this article gives you some background​, but otherwise, let’s get right into what’s causing progressive web apps to become the new industry standard.

App Store Obsolescence

Typically, besides the bloatware that already comes on your smartphone, the only way to get a new app onto your mobile device has been to use the Apple or Google app store services. This has manifested a few issues for companies and consumers alike:

● If you have users on iOS (read: you do) Apple’s app store only allow apps that have been approved by Apple, which is typically very scrutinizing in lending its approval
● Companies need to pay a commission to the store per app purchase
● Getting a company’s app from their website takes a bit more time when you’re redirected to the app store in the traditional sense
● When a consumer is downloading your app via the store, they’re also exposed to your competition

PWAs can and do entirely circumnavigate the above issues for consumers and app developers. In common practice, PWAs are easily downloadable onto your device right from your browser (you’ve seen the “Add XYZ to home screen” before? That’s the PWA for whatever site you’re visiting.)

While PWAs are still fighting a minor skirmish on iOS devices , the future is looking bright for Apple to cozy up to the current climate and accept PWAs on iOS devices to the same degree that Google has.

PWAs let companies and consumers both have their cake and eat it too if desired.

Reliability + Responsiveness

Have you ever been using a website and then your wifi stops, or you tried using it in a remote area without coverage? We’ve all been there, and it’s frustrating.

What can be even more frustrating is trying to use an app or website with an incredibly weak data or wifi connection, as you clench your teeth and wipe nervous sweat from your brow, patience lost every second as you wait, and wait, for the function to complete.

Guess what?

Again, PWAs are built using web technology, but they don’t need to be connected to the web at all times to function , as all of the app content is still within the app itself on your device. PWAs can work offline, just like native apps and hybrids as well, while still providing all of the features and browsing functionality of a website. This is one of the aspects that truly put the “progressive” in “progressive web app.”

Just like native apps, PWAs can also send notifications even when the PWA is out of focus or even closed. This is one of the features that a lot of our partners ask about.

Further, the UI is seamless and responsive across all devices one uses. Whether tablet, phone, laptop; portrait or landscape; there is no need to develop different versions for different devices. Which brings us to our next point, that…

Easily Executed & More Affordable

We saved the bottom line for last.

To explain it plainly, if you hire a development team to deliver you a PWA, it takes them less time to deliver a fully functional product than a native or hybrid app, which cuts down billable hours on the invoice they’ll send you.

Further – remember how we mentioned that progressive web apps maintain the same responsiveness and UI across phone, tablet, and desktop? Well, you’re essentially hiring a dev team to provide you with several versions of the app to cater to each different device for the cost
of one, and for which one takes less time and money than a (formerly) industry-standard native or hybrid app.

Win/win/win

At this point, it shouldn’t be a surprise for you now why companies like ours are very excited when we need to deliver PWAs for our projects. It’s truly a threefold winning scenario.

The development team spends less time and energy into the construction of a PWA, freeing them up to take on other tasks or perhaps leave the office early to spend time with the kids.

The customer forks over less money for an app, and one which works across all commonly used devices.

Most importantly, the end-user has a secure, reliable, responsive app experience, without needing to look at their reception bars. Is that to say that native apps are completely kaput at this point? No, native apps still have their role . However, for the majority of the app use cases out there, PWAs are as close to a panacea one can get at present, and in the future.

About the author

Asbed Kassis

Asbed is the CEO at Alena Solutions. His areas of expertise include product management, analytics, quality assurance, and strategic planning.

Asbed holds a BS in Computer Science from the California State University of Northridge and an MBA from the University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business.

In his spare time you'll find Asbed playing with his kids, gardening, camping or playing soccer.

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