Looking at it from the user’s perspective: PWA vs. Mobile App

PWA (Progressive Web App) simply explained – A web application that has the appearance of a classic mobile app. A PWA can access standard device features such as camera, microphone, GPS and push notifications and use them within the software. Furthermore, the app checks both the browser and the device itself for compatibility. The appearance of a PWA on a smartphone or tablet is also very similar to that of a native mobile app. However, many of us are more familiar with a classic mobile app. On iOS or Android, these mobile apps are downloaded through app stores. They are designed to provide a compelling user experience while leveraging the hardware capabilities of a given mobile device. But what exactly are the differences between the two technologies?

Installation without download: PWA is easy to install

Typically, mobile users do not install apps per month. This is partly because using the app requires a certain level of commitment once installed. Users must first find the app in the store and declare their intention to install it. If necessary, the app will be uninstalled after a short period of use and will not be used again. However, companies must always consider app stores and their policies when version updates or optimizations have been made. Then they have to wait until the download and installation are complete.

A progressive web app, on the other hand, doesn’t need to be downloaded or installed. Visitors can bookmark the app within the browser and add it to their home screen with just a few clicks. The PWA is integrated into the system settings, appears on the home screen, and is displayed in their app directory.

A progressive web app also requires less storage space than an app. Visitors can access the app and share it with their friends by simply entering a URL. Moreover, there is no need to update the software as it is always launched with the latest version. In the B2B environment, the advantages of the PWA over classic app applications outweigh the disadvantages.

Both offer reasonable performance and depending on your preference, PWA or classic apps perform better.

A PWA loads much faster than a classic app. Service workers, so-called scripts that run in the background and are independent of the website, are the foundation of any PWA. Service workers let you manage offline requests, fetch and cache specific resources in advance, synchronize data with a remote server, and more. This means that once you add your app to the home screen, you can use it without waiting for it to load, even on a weak network connection.

Also, since PWAs are browser-based, they consume more battery life and have longer latency than classic apps. A classic app can connect to the underlying operating system. It can access the device hardware to perform more computations and provide a better experience to your customers.

Native apps have more capabilities on your phone

Although PWA technology is gradually catching up with classic apps, PWAs have fewer features than classic apps:

Push notifications increase the probability that users will interact with and revisit your business. In a classic app, you can either create the feature from scratch or integrate other parties. Push notifications are also available in PWA because service workers support the API. However, this is not the same for all platforms.

Geofencing: Geofencing allows programmer:s to create digital boundaries in actual space. The app can start activities when users enter certain areas. Combined with push notifications, geofencing is a fantastic tool to connect and interact with your users. Currently, only native apps offer this capability.

Mobile payments: With PWA, the way to interact with an NFC chip or other digital payment method varies by platform.

Interaction with other apps: Classic apps can make calls, add appointments to the calendar, go to checkout, and more by calling other apps.

Other smart features: For example, PWAs can’t access your phone’s proximity sensor, ambient light sensor, or smart login features.

What should you choose when developing an app: A classic app or a PWA?

PWA and classic apps each have advantages and disadvantages. When choosing one over the other, consider what qualities both have and how they align with the idea you have for your app.

Consider PWA if:

  • You are just starting out and want a straightforward app for your users; PWA requires no download and allows user interaction via push notifications.
  • You have limited resources; PWA is less costly to develop, publish and maintain.
  • You want to increase brand recognition and search engine optimization (SEO); PWA is similar to any website and reaches a large audience.

Consider a classic app if:

  • You need complex applications with many additional features that can be used specifically for customer needs.
  • You strongly weight the marketing aspect in terms of download via App Store.
  • You want to use the most advanced smartphone features: If your product requires a lot of processing power or geofencing and sensors/detection are critical to the user experience.

Contact us to learn more about the possibilities of both technologies.

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