Will Progressive Web Apps Replace Native Mobile Apps?

Most modern businesses recognize there is a need to target their customers via mobile devices, but are unsure which solution to choose. Basically, there are several ways to target mobile customers, these are: building a responsive website, developing native mobile apps, hybrid apps or creating progressive web apps.

These solutions are discussed below:

  • Responsive websites, although these are easy to reach, they do tend to offer an incomplete user experience.
  • Native mobile apps offer the best user experience but are only available for certain devices so there are huge barriers to their adoption. Basically, native apps need a download so consumers really do have to buy into the concept which means they are not an impulse behaviour solution.
  • Hybrid apps are fast and much easy to develop since it provides a single code base for all platforms but it lacks in speed, performance and overall optimization in comparison to native apps for instance.
  • Progressive web apps are the ideal solution as they combine the best elements of the three mentioned above. Let’s go more in deep with this approach.

PWAs defined

The simplest definition of a progressive web app (PWA) is that it is a mobile app that is delivered via the internet. It functions in similar ways to a native mobile app, due to the fact it utilizes an app shell which allows for app-type gestures and navigation. One major difference, though, is the fact it does not need to be downloaded from an app store. Progressive web apps run in a self-contained fashion within the web browser. Service worker scripts ensure these apps are loaded instantaneously, even when connectivity is low. While pre-caching maintains the validity of the app and ensure it is up to date as the latest version will be launched each time.

Efficiency and economy of PWAs

As noted above progressive web apps really are far more efficient than native mobile apps. They are an on-demand solution that will not be off-putting to users at all. What’s more, they are always available but don’t use up any memory or data on smart devices. These apps mean that users consume less data and a good example of progressive web apps are Twitter Lite, The Washington Post and Litefy (Shopify). progressive web apps.

Native mobile apps are really convenient for users, and progressive web apps offer similar user utility without the drawbacks associated with native apps. It’s easy to save a progressive web app to a mobile home screen without any need for a time-consuming download.

For consumers the improved user experience and fact there’s no need for any type of buy-in, makes these apps far more preferential. After all, with any native mobile app, the user first has to make the conscious decision and commitment to downloading and saving the app and the same can be said for uninstalling. With progressive web apps, there’s just one simple click on a link, making it a far easier user decision, and there is no lengthy wait for downloads or any requirement for installation on devices.

What do developers think?

From the mobile development perspective, progressive web apps are quicker to build and upgrade, so much more economical overall. It’s possible to build just one app which will display in an identical fashion on any device. This isn’t the case for native mobile app development, which is a segmented market requiring separate apps building for Android and Apple devices. Progressive web apps feature a uniform build design that works on the browsers commonly used by smart devices. And, of course, given all the above, it’s not difficult to appreciate that progressive web apps cost far less to build than native mobile apps.

Challenges of PWAs

Progressive apps may seem too good to be true, but just like everything else, they are not flawless. Depending on what smartphone you have either Android or iOS, there are many device features that progressive web apps cannot access on the device, which makes it lag behind native apps. Progressive web apps cannot access a device’s Bluetooth, advanced camera controls, geofencing, proximity sensors, contacts and others.

Also, being out of the app store represent a missing opportunity. There’s a significant traffic of users who still primarily search on the app store which leads to potential traffic losses.

The future of mobile apps

Although native apps took the market by storm when they were first launched, consumers now seem to be turning their backs on them. Recent stats highlight that most consumers don’t load any apps in a month. Progressive web apps were first introduced in 2015 and are gaining in popularity. Some of the popular apps include Starbucks and Twitter, and when Tinder switched over to progressive web apps users found their load time was halved which in turn led to longer user sessions on site.


There are lots more advantages to progressive web apps, including increased ad clicks and conversion rates. Ultimately, it has to be said that progressive web apps place the mobile user at the forefront, so if you don’t already have native mobile apps for your site you would be well advised to look at progressive web apps as they are likely to be the most popular option hereon. Many brands that do already use native apps are making the move to progressive web apps as they really do offer the best solution for any business.

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