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Advantages and Disadvantages of Progressive Web Apps

Progressive web apps (PWAs) work like websites – they load like webpages and have all the features and advantages of regular websites, powered by modern browsers. Many think that this is the future of apps.

Mobile UX (user experience) trends are perpetually hungry for a web experience that is more than dynamic. Developers need to stay afloat and at the level of their competitors. This is why they are constantly looking for new ways to speed up and personalize user experience. PWAs are a great way to do this.

However, PWAs do come with certain disadvantages. So, should you go with progressive web apps? Knowing some of their advantages and disadvantages should help you make up your mind.

Pros and Cons of Progressive Web Apps

Although progressive web apps are already widely used today and getting more popular, some companies and projects still use native apps. Why is this the case? It’s because PWAs do come with their own downsides. That’s why it’d be helpful to know the advantages and disadvantages of PWAs.

Pros

Responsiveness

Most native apps represent the corresponding company’s appearance. It’s all about brand recognition. Coming up with a responsive app isn’t easy, though.

So, what does it mean when an app is responsive? Well, it means that a web app has made its way to mobile devices, providing the full experience and capabilities of the online version.

In essence, an app is “responsive” if it works across all devices.

Seeing as to how PWAs are browser-based, it’s much easier to bring responsiveness to the table. Instead of working on a couple of different platforms, developers can make a PWA work using a browser.

Improved Performance

There is a lot of misconception going around that PWAs are lacking in performance. This belief exists because coming up with native apps requires specialized tools.

However, the world is moving towards browser-based software. Browsers are getting increasingly fast, tweakable, and diverse. This is why PWAs actually perform better than native apps. Most importantly, they improve on the functionality and reliability and don’t require any support.

No Installation

Have you ever installed a website? Of course you haven’t. You don’t install it. You go to it. You type in the address and, depending on your connection, it gets loaded.

Similarly, since PWAs are web- and browser-based, they don’t require any installation. But don’t worry, users won’t have to navigate to your PWA via a browser. They can have PWA icons on their phone that look and feel just like the native app.

Think of it as bookmarking a page on your desktop, rather than installing. It’s pretty neat.

App-Store Independence

Almost every single native app is available through an official app store. There are other ways to get your hands on apps that aren’t available on official stores, but most are there exclusively.

This means you’re down to a couple of app stores that are specific to the phone’s OS.

In contrast, PWAs are app-store independent. In other words, they aren’t bound by stores and the support. This means that you can download a PWA directly onto your device and cut a few corners.

Platform-Specific Features

The fact that PWAs are browser-run has some unique benefits. With native apps, you have to implement the same features for each platform (different operative systems, different device types). However, to do this you’ll have to use different programming languages, which complicates things.

With a PWA, all you need is to develop it. Yes, on any device. And yes, it’s going to work on all others. There are even frameworks for this, like Cordova, for example.

Push Notifications

Push notifications are a standard of many native apps. These are short messages that pop up on your device, notifying you of messages received, updates, and stuff. They’re like your chat notifications.

Not only do PWAs have push notifications capability, but they wear this capability as a badge of honor.

Users can open these notifications and use them, just like they would with native apps.

This might not be a benefit compared to native apps, but that’s an advancement from years past when PWAs weren’t expected to support push notifications.

Cons

Some Device Features Are Off-Limits

One of the top issues with PWAs is that they aren’t built for iOS devices. With proprietary software and hardware, iOS devices aren’t built to work perfectly with third-party software like PWAs.

Of course, PWAs on iOS are definitely possible and are available in most browsers. Some features, however, such as offline browsing, push notifications, and more aren’t available on iOS devices.

This may change in the future but for now, PWAs are best for Android users.

No Store Download

App store independence is a great feat with PWAs. You can download them directly, which benefits both the company and the user.

However, app stores are more than obligatory platforms that people have to go through. They are convenient and contain useful libraries that store most of the app content that you may need.

Unfortunately, you won’t find PWAs here. People come across an interesting app or when they’re fooling around on app stores, but that’s not going to include PWAs.

High Battery Usage

PWAs are written in top-level code, making it harder for your device to interpret the code. No worries though, as this isn’t going to affect the speed of PWAs. However, it’s going to drain your phone’s battery life.

Although research is ongoing about how to avoid this inconvenience, as of now PWAs consume more battery life than typical native apps.

No Cross-App Login

People who browse a lot wouldn’t want to go through lots of steps to do something. For instance, they may forego subscribing to something if they need to enter a lot of information. Except sometimes this information is simply a must with apps. This is why many native apps feature logging in, even if it’s just Facebook or Google.

Unfortunately, cross-app login isn’t supported on PWAs. This may change, but PWA users are out of luck at the moment.

More Pros Than Cons for Progressive Web Apps?

The list of arguments for PWAs is an extensive one. PWAs are taking over and that’s evident in the number of companies that are going PWA instead of native. PWAs bring responsiveness to the table, more so than any native-based app. They also don’t require installation or depend on app-store independent, and they perform better.

On the other hand, there are certain features that aren’t available with PWAs and the fact that PWAs are store-independent isn’t always a good thing. High battery usage is another problem, so is the lack of support for cross-app login.

All in all, however, progressive web apps are worthy of consideration for most businesses out there. The list of advantages is longer than that of the disadvantages.

By interactivated • on April 15, 2020

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