Which One to Choose – Native Apps Vs Progressive Web Apps?
23 Jan. 2018 Mobile App
In 2015 Google announced a new and without a doubt revolutionary approach to app development – the name was Progressive app development. It came with promises of increasing app functionality, providing a richer experience and the much-anticipated support for platform hybridization.
Progressive app development was the future, and its predecessor Native app development was in very literal terms ‘set to be relegated to the past.’
Two years after its release PWA has indeed lived up to the hype. With tech big boys like Alibaba and Twitter committing to this fresh and most importantly efficient way of building apps, we look to consider (albeit maybe for the last time), the ongoing battle in the field of app development – Progressive web app vs. Native web apps. What sets each apart? Which is more sustainable? Cost implications? Etc. But first, what exactly is a PWA?
PWA vs Native Apps
Like its name subtly lets out, a progressive web app is a ‘progressive’ way of handling app development that exploits the latent capabilities of HTML 5 (and other new gen technologies) to deliver a robust and fully functional mobile application, hosted on the web browser of a device. This is in stark comparison to a native app built only to function within its ‘native’ app environment; could be the Android OS, IOS or Windows. This progressive shift, like we’ve already reiterated heralds a plethora of benefits, including but not limited to;
Cross-platform hybridization – the ability to develop a singular instance of an application that is functional on every platform be it iOS or Android is perhaps the most enticing feature of PWA’s. Before PWA’s introduction, entities (individuals, businesses, organizations) looking to develop an app must generate at least three separate native apps (Android, iOS, Windows) if they were serious about achieving reasonable adoption rates. This ultimately meant that such entities had to spend thrice the budget, expend thrice the effort and wait thrice longer for the development of their app solutions. PWA allows for the development of a single app that is not only cheaper and easier to build but also very much uniform across all devices.
A Minimalist Package
With native apps, a user has to first, discover the app solution – proceed to his/her native app store – before downloading the said app. This tripartite process is often one too many, and research has indicated that there’s an at least 20% drop in the number of potential users with each stage of the app-acquisition process. PWAs obliterate the need for app installation and app stores in general. They function in a runtime environment hosted atop the user’s web browser, and this short-circuit nature makes them easier to access (which invariably means more users) and maintain (from a developers perspective) than Native apps.
Sublime User Experience
Aside from the unified experience brought on by PWA’s across all platforms, bolstered by an extensive array of UX functions, PWAs, on the average deliver an all-round better UX experience than native apps. Just ask AliExpress who recorded a seismic 82% conversion rate after implementing a PWA app solution – more consumers were obviously finding it easier to navigate and use their app; ergo fostering increased sales.
Stats like this illustrate just how groundbreaking PWA’s are. And while Native apps still lead the frontier in terms of apps that require sheer power, since they integrate better at the OS level with a device’s core mechanics, the increased stakeholder activity in the PWA cynosure portends one truth; they will only get better, better and better.
At the moment, if you’re intent on – penetrating the market (desktop users inclusive); saving costs and time; and not too particular about device-specific features then PWAs are the way to go, they offer a myriad of advantages that cannot be matched by Native apps.