What is a (PWA) and Why Is It a Good Alternative to a Native App?

What exactly is PWA and why is it gaining popularity?

Olga BińczakAug 09, 2021

What is a (PWA) and Why Is It a Good Alternative to a Native App? 

Web applications have been part of the virtual environment for several years. Thanks to improvements such as website responsiveness, not only programmers can create websites in such a way that they behave like applications.  

In this article, we’re going to delve into what PWAs are and why they are beneficial. We will also try to tell whether they might just be the right alternative to a native app for your organization. 

What's the difference between a web app and a native mobile app? 

First of all, it is necessary to separate these two terms. Native application means that a given product is created for a dedicated platform, e.g. iOS or Android. It must then be written in a language appropriate for a given platform - in turn, Swift / Objective-C or Java. The big advantage is full access to the phone's components. If you want to create an application that will use the phone's resources in an unusual way, the native application will be the most appropriate choice. 

On the other hand, the web application can be treated as a development of a responsive website. Technically, it is an ordinary web application, but the user who finds it may get the impression that it is an ordinary mobile application due to the possibility of working also in offline mode. Not only will he be able to pin it to the desktop, but he will also see that it has a dedicated icon. 

In addition, people involved in creating the design of these applications can almost perfectly map the interface to the native application. 

What is PWA? 

Progressive Web App is a web application that uses modern web capabilities to provide users with an experience similar to a dedicated mobile application. These applications must meet specific requirements, are deployed to servers, accessed via URLs, and indexed by search engines.

PWA checklist 

● support secure HTTPS connection; 

● be responsive; 

● have a Web App Manifest file, i.e. a simple JSON file that informs the browser about the application and how it should behave after installation on a mobile device or computer; 

● needs to load quickly; 

● must work on all browsers; 

● each subpage should have a separate URL. 

Cons 

Unfortunately, PWA applications have some limitations compared to native applications. In particular, this applies to the capabilities of the telephone, which cannot be duplicated on a website. As of iOS 11.3 you can run PWAs on Apple devices, but compatibility with older devices is still lacking. 

Additionally, they cannot do everything that mobile applications are capable of. Since they are written in JavaScript, they are not as efficient and optimized as applications written in Kotlin or Swift. 

Pros 

The biggest advantage of the PWA application is their availability. They can be installed almost independently of the operating system of the phone. This has benefits for both developers and users, as developers will not have to create separate applications, and it is even possible to use them offline. The Chrome browser allows for convenient and direct installation of the application from the website level. 

In conclusion, it’s clear that Progressive Web Applications (PWAs) represent a really great alternative to building a mobile native app. They are cheaper and quicker to develop, require fewer resources to maintain them, and they are almost indistinguishable from their native counterparts, and offer a great user experience. 

If you’re looking to develop an app, be sure to do your research beforehand to make an educated choice. If you’d like to further explore whether a Progressive Web App is a good direction for your project, reach out! We’d love to discuss your needs and advise you on the best solution.