Progressive Web Apps better than Native Mobile Apps

01 May 2019

As per ComScore 2017 report, there are over 2.5 Billion smartphone users and an average human spends approximately 2 Hours and 51 minutes on their mobile phones. This number increase by an hour if we include the tablet users as well. Further, in-depth analysis shows that mobile users spend just 14% of their on-screen time in browser and rest 86% are spent on mobile apps. So, this mobile user segment is growing drastically.

Do you think that building a mobile website is the best option for meeting expectation of your modern mobile users ?

If your answer is YES, then 'You are wrong!'.

A simple/normal mobile websites are deemed to be less attractive compared to a dedicated Native mobile app, because of the level of user experience and engagement that a native mobile application can offer its users.

What make mobile websites less attractive for mobile users ?

  1. Slow load times
  2. Janky scrolling and animations
  3. User engagement is poor.
  4. No offline access.

Building a native Mobile App - Optimal solution ?

 Considering the experience & features offered by native mobile application, it is a best solution BUT NOT AN OPTIMAL solution considering following facts;

  • Native application development often requires developers with different programming language skills. e.g., Java for Android, Objective C++ for iOS or .Net Mono for Windows phone. 
  • Native Application packages differs for different devices & versions, and packages should be delivered to users through different  stores like play store, iOS app store  or Windows store.
  • Overhead for company's that just plans to build a simple mobile application. Applications that doesn't actually require device hardware.
  • Larger package downloads are required for installation and subsequent updates.
  • Slow update deployment to user devices.
  • Native apps are often impacted by installation friction. Each step in the installation process results in 20% drop in the probably users.
  • Not easily discover-able and requires separate marketing and campaigns.

Above points are applicable for any install-able Mobile app, it might be a Native Mobile App or Hybrid Mobile App.

Progressive Web Apps:

Well! there is one more choice available, that offers the ease of website development and feature of native mobile application. This has become latest sensation in mobile app development, and have started replacing heavy native apps.

Progress Web Applications are

Hybrid of regular websites and a native mobile application. It attempts to combine features offered by most modern browsers with the benefit of mobile experience.

What makes PWA awesome ?

  • RELIABLE – Loads instantly and it can work offline even in uncertain network conditions.
  • FAST – Respond quickly to user interactions with silky smooth animations and no janky scrolling
  • SAFE – Uses secure HTTPs for all its communications
  • BOOKMARKING – Browsers will prompt user to add PWA app-icon to their home screen and so it can be launched directly from there.
  • INCREASE USER ENGAGEMENT using web push notifications (mobile & desktop), immersive full screen experience, control screen orientation, hide entire browser chrome etc.,
  • DIRECTLY INSTALLABLE FROM WEBSITE – It just runs on modern browsers.
  • DISCOVER-ABLE from web search result.

PWA vs Native App

Following comparison shows the advantages of Progressive Web App compared to native mobile apps

  • It supports re-usability of code across different platforms i.e., Html, JavaScript and CSS
  • Learn one language and apply everywhere i.e, JavaScript
  • It is written in JavaScript - a well known language with largest ecosystem and community
  • It can be integrated into an existing website and enhance user experience in modern browser that supports PWA. So, existing customers can directly benefit from it.
  • It can benefit from the site's popularity.
  • Reduces installation friction
  • Updates to PWA are immediately delivered to customers.
  • Smaller file downloads during incremental updates
  • Supports sharing application through URL
  • PWA coupled with AMP(Accelerated Mobile Pages) provides faster initial load and smooth, cached subsequent requests.

Clearly above comparison would have given you a clear-cut idea on what to consider when you plan on building an application for mobile segment users.

Any queries on PWA use cases ? I'll be happy to take it up and answer religiously!

Checkout my other PWA articles, on how to achieve better user experience by utilizing the progressive features offered by modern browsers. 

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