PWA vs mobile apps – does your business really need a dedicated mobile application?

In many cases, mobile apps can boost your eCommerce sales by offering your clients an additional way to keep in touch with your business. There are many great examples of mobile applications that allow users to access your service in every moment and place of the Earth – some of good examples would be social medias like Facebook, Instagram or LinkedIn, and eCommerce apps like Amazon or Zalando. A large share of our clients asks us about developing a mobile app for their business during our project design process – and sometimes they never heard about Progressive Web Applications (PWA), which often can be a great and efficient alternative for dedicated mobile apps.

What are Progressive Web Applications?

PWA is a technology in which one can develop a web application code and simultaneously render it for both desktop and mobile devices (phones and tablets). Application user could download the app directly from the browser to his desktop or install it on his/her mobile device. In context of SEO, Google is more likely to index PWA services higher. Features often looked for in mobile apps, like notifications, microphone or camera integration are also easily integrated within the Progressive Web Apps.

Why should you use Progressive Web Applications in your business?

Ease of use

Progressive web apps, in comparison to dedicated iOS or Android applications, can be developed significantly faster with more flexibility. Deploying native apps on Google Play Store and Apple App Store requires the app to meet certain requirements and to pass the verification. In case of PWA, there is no need to deploy your application to any Store – your clients can just download the application directly from their mobile web browser and use it from their device’s home screen!

Lower development costs

Nowadays, dedicated mobile apps are often developed in modern technologies like React Native, Swift, Kotlin or Flutter – which requires the development team to have at least several dedicated programmers which work every day with these technologies. Taking that into mind, the overall costs of your project might be significantly higher if you would like to develop and deploy a native mobile application for your business. Progressive Web Applications are a perfect solution when your web app is developed in React.js or other JavaScript framework, and you don’t need to deeply integrate your application with your client’s phone. This way, you can use your budget in additional features of your web application instead of additional development and mobile app tests.

How can you install PWA on iOS device?

PWAs can be easily installed on mobile devices and are often used in addition to dedicated mobile apps.

Looks like mobile!

Many of your potential clients might not even notice that they’re using a PWA. Progressive web apps are responsive, fast, can be used without active Internet connection, and can be greatly integrated with the device – for example, they can use push notifications to directly contact your user by their phone. They can also be easily installed directly from the web browser – without any deployment process

Downsides of PWA

The main disadvantage of Progressive Web Apps is somewhat limited integration with the mobile device. Most importantly, we will not be able to use contacts and data saved in the mobile phone or strictly mobile functions in contrary to native apps. In many projects, like eCommerce platforms or service apps, this will not be an issue.

PWA how manifest file should look like

Comparison of mobile apps and PWA

PWA

  • Works as a web application and is often perceived as a native mobile app by its users
  • There is no need to build a separate mobile application to meet Google Play or App Store requirements
  • Highest quality integration made possible by modern web standards
  • Lower implementation costs by deploying one application with a single source code
  • "Add to Home Screen" button - runs directly in a mobile phone web browser
  • Lower hardware requirements
  • Can be used offline

Aplikacje mobilne

  • Dedicated mobile application that cannot be used as a web app
  • Separate codebase for Android and iOS
  • Great UX and integration with mobile devices and native hardware
  • Higher implementation costs due to separate code for each platform
  • Requires more space and hardware resources
  • Higher usage of mobile Internet data

When should you use a PWA?

PWAs are a great solution when you need a fully responsive, fast and universal platform to communicate with your clients. In many projects, you will probably not need a deep integration with device’s contact lists, phone settings or other native applications. This way you can expand your budget on the necessary features which are more important for your business model.

Michał Kłak

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Michał Kłak

Cofounder and Chief Operating Officer of iMakeable.

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