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Progressive Web Apps: An In-Depth Look

In Recent Years, the internet has seen some great progression in respect to Web Development. Every week it seems like websites are just getting better and better. Enhanced usability, faster load speeds, more creative designs, and increased responsiveness are just some of the advancements that seem to be changing the way people are interacting with the internet. These changes have brought about a new topic of discussion that is to be the key player of this web revolution, Progressive Web Apps.

What are Progressive Web Apps?

Progressive Web Apps, PWA’s for short, are essentially just web apps that have most of the advantages of native apps. They look and feel as if they’ve been downloaded onto your device, but reside in the browser. The name Progressive Web Apps originates from their capability to be used by anyone, regardless of browser choice, the reduction in memory usage in comparison to native apps, their safety features, their responsiveness, and their ability to be installed on any device by users choice. This makes them extremely valuable as a solution in different realms of the tech world. They are providing companies with a superior platform to widen their user base. Industry heavyweights such as Amazon and Facebook, are already on board and have received fantastic feedback. At Devfuse, we’re definitely big advocates of adding PWA’s into a brands tech assembly.

The Advantages

Here are some of the key aspects of PWA’s that we’ve seen provide consistent benefits for clients and users.

Market Reach

User acquisition and retention are the main priority when it comes to application/web development. You want to get as many users as you possibly can. Many people are hesitant to download a piece of software onto their device, and here is where you can capitalize. You can reach everyone, since the PWA is accessible through the web and the browser is a technology the vast majority of people trust.

Lightweight and Lightning Fast

With PWA’s, users have the option to install the app onto their device, and the app takes up much less space than a native app. A lot of users love the idea of native apps, but lack the storage on their device to install them. PWA’s provide these users with an option that requires much less space, since they only take what they absolutely need storage-wise. In Addition, PWA’s don’t give up speed for storage, meaning users will still get that lightning fast native app speed.

Progressive Web Apps: An In-Depth Look 1 | THRV Apps, Design, Digital Marketing & Strategy

No Internet Connection, No Problem

Lots of people are downloading PWA’s onto their devices, because they know they can still have access to a lot of their functionalities even while offline. These apps will work even if the server goes down or there is some connectivity issues with content providers. Users get to view their content even when their mobile data is low or when they are in an area without access to stable internet connection, meaning they’ll be able to use the app whenever and wherever they want. This functionality just increases the user’s experience with your product tenfold.

Progressive Web Apps: An In-Depth Look 2 | THRV Apps, Design, Digital Marketing & Strategy

Pushing Those Notifications

A lot of the attraction towards native apps are the ability to send device-specific push notifications. This gives the application massive enhancements in terms of user interaction and experience. PWA’s now have the power to send out those same notifications at ease.

The Disadvantages

Along with the benefits are some drawbacks and limitations. The PWA technology is still fairly new and is evolving by the day, but let’s talk about the current state of the drawbacks when using PWA’s.

Limited Access to Device Hardware

When using a native app, you have the power to call upon a lot of different hardware within the app. You have access to the device’s camera, microphone, swipe gestures, hard drive, facial recognition, etc. Although PWA’s do provide the ability to access that hardware to some extent, it’s not as extensive and intuitive as it is with native apps. However, JavaScript and browser capabilities are constantly improving and we are seeing new features and accessibilities added consistently.

Legacy Browser, Legacy Experience

Even though PWA’s are technically supported on legacy browsers, they don’t work as well as they do on modern browsers. This drawback only affects a small number of users, but it’s still worth mentioning. Some people don’t have the hardware to run modern browsers or are forced to use legacy solutions due to other circumstances. Our main hope isn’t that PWA’s fix usability on legacy browsers, but that legacy browsers cease to exist all together (in a perfect world.)

The Pros Outrank the Cons

In conclusion, the limitations of Progressive Web Apps are minimal, whereas the benefits are massive and should be taken advantage of by everybody. We think they work most effectively as an addition to a native app, increasing the products market reach. This is what industry leaders have shown to be most effective. Amazon for example has its own native app, in addition to their PWA giving them the ability to reach and impress more people. But to each their own, at the end of the day it’s your choice whether you adapt a Progressive Web App into your business as stand-alone or alongside your native application.

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