To answer this we will start with what are native and web apps.
A native app is an app installed directly to your device. This is usually done via the associated app store, which will vary depending on your device’s platform. For Android users, this is the Google Play Store and for Apple users, this is the App Store.
Native apps work independent of network connection, are accessible easily from your device and can interact with your device’s hardware. This allows features such as access to device data, camera, connecting to associated devices and controlling your device’s audio.
Native apps are usually feature-rich as they can access your device’s low-level functionality. However, this comes with the caveat that they need to be downloaded from an app store, which limits them to certain devices and operating systems.
Restricting access to an app by store reduces where the app is accessible from and imposes app store specific restrictions to its content/features. As well as delaying the developer’s ability to make updates as each app store has its own approval process.
A web app is an app that runs in the browser, it responds to the environment it’s loaded in and does not need to be installed or downloaded. While a web app may look and function like a native app in some ways, they tend to have functional limitations.
The main benefit of a web app is it’s reach, as it is not limited by needing to be downloaded via an app store.
With the above in mind, we can finally answer the question of “What is a PWA?”
A PWA is a type of app that bridges the gap between a native and web app with the purpose of offering the best of both worlds. In practice, this means it is accessible via a browser whilst also being installable on the device, and provides access to functionality that was once only considered feasible with a native app.
PWAs can include features such as:
- Fully responsive
- Run installed/via a browser
- Quick access from your home screen or dock
- Increased speed and security
- Enhanced experience with better user engagement and higher conversions
- Offline functionality
- Push notifications
- Access to APIs such as Geolocation
- Removes the middleman involved with app download & installation
- Independent/instant update process
- Single platform development with reduced development costs over a native approach
- Reduced time to market compared to traditional multi-platform native apps
“Progressive Web Apps are user experiences that have the reach of the web”
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With the benefits of a PWA growing it’s a great time to consider if this is a viable option for your next project. Whilst with a native app you need a version developed for each app store, a PWA can use a single codebase which can dramatically reduce development costs.
If you’re looking to have a PWA developed or want any further information please contact us.