Mobile phones and applications have revolutionized the way we interact with technology today, offering a vast array of possibilities at our fingertips. The range of available applications seems limitless, with an app for practically everything. However, for small businesses, the process of building and maintaining an app can be quite daunting and expensive. Enter Progressive Web Apps (PWAs).
What is a Progressive Web App?
A PWA is like a web application but more advanced, providing the same feel and functionality as a mobile app. This includes capabilties that leverage the mobile operating system's native features, such as app icons, cameras, geolocation, push notifications, and the ability to work offline. PWA's are built using standard web technologies and can be accessed from any device with a web browser, including desktops, laptops, tablets, and smartphones.
Differences Between PWAs and Native Apps
- Development Cost: PWAs are cheaper to develop compared to Native Apps. With PWAs, you can have a single codebase for the different platforms, which is also a huge time-saver.
- Discoverability: Native apps cannot be indexed by search engines, while PWAs work like websites and can be indexed by search engines.
- Installation and Download: Native apps need to be downloaded and installed from an app store, while PWAs bypass this process. From the browser, you can bookmark a PWA and add the app to your home screen with just a few taps.
Benefits of PWAs
- Fast and Responsive: PWAs are fast, lightweight, and responsive. They provide a seamless user experience, even on slow network connections.
- Functionality: PWAs function just like normal Native Apps. They have the ability to work offline, send push notifications, access device hardware, and more.
- Independent Updates: The updates are independent, you don't need to visit the app store for an update. PWAs use Service Workers to cache the app's assets, which means that the app can work offline and still receive updates in the background.
- Discoverability: PWAs are discoverable via search engines. This means that users can easily find and access the app without having to go through the app store.
- Easy Installation: PWAs are easily installable. From the browser, you can bookmark it and add the app to your home screen with just a few taps.
- Low Maintenance Cost: PWAs have low maintenance cost compared to native apps.
In summary, PWAs offer numerous benefits over native apps, particularly when it comes to cost, maintenance, and discoverability, and they provide a comparable user experience. So, if you're considering building an app, it might be worthwhile to explore a PWA.