This post describes the advantages and disadvantages of Progressive Web Apps.
What is a PWA?
Putting things as straightforward as possible, PWAs combine the discoverability of mobile websites with the ability to leverage application device-specific features like notifications, location services, and the like.
With PWAs, website owners can create what's essentially a mobile website which is accessible through Google's search engine results pages (SERPs), but at the same also can offer key native app features, such as:
- Installing the app on the mobile home screen with the touch of a button
- Accessing the app and browse offline
- Push notifications
Although not complete, below a brief list of features and benefits of progressive web apps.
Offline Work Mode
One of the most significant benefits of using progressive web apps is that they can work offline and online. Many people download PWAs as they know that they can use the PWAs even when they are without data or an Internet connection. Even better, PWAs will even work when the server itself is dead. Users never lose their content. Once they know and understand this more and more, this will likely have a positive impact on conversions.
Push Notification Support
Push notifications allow users to opt-in to regular updates from sites they like and effectively re-engage them with customized, engaging content. Push notifications are widely used in native apps, as they allow you to interact with your app pretty easily and provide a fantastic user experience. And now the progressive web provides this functionality as well.
By-pass App Store
You do not need any of the app stores to publish your progressive web app. It's easier for you as the PWA owner. You are in charge, and can update any features immediately. Also, as you may know not all apps are accepted by app stores, which have many rules and restrictions when it comes to publishing.
App Loading Speed
Most of the world uses 3G or 4G networks; a fast loading speed is essential for a user-friendly experience. Native apps take up a ton of memory space. Even though they would like to use these apps, many people don’t have enough memory on their phones to install them. The great thing about a PWA are small in space, making them much faster to download.
No access to Apple or Android app stores
Native Apps are often found because they are visible and ranking in one of the well-known app platforms. However, if you develop a PWA, you are not exposed as a company in the Apple or Android app store. From a marketing perspective, somebody can regard it as a disadvantage to not use the app store as a “springboard” to a wider audience.
Limited functionalities and UX
The great thing about a native app is that the features are endless. The native app platform allows you to build an app with a superb user experience (UX). As of today, progressive web applications have fewer features. And most of all, iOS does not support all functionalities of PWAs on Apple devices.
PWA advantages and disadvantages
When looking at the pro's and con's, I would say PWAs combine the best of the web and the best of (native) apps. PWAs can help you to increase conversions and page visits and to extend session length. Certainly, as of today there are still some limitations, it’s advantages make PWAs a perfect solution for new businesses and media and e-commerce businesses to engage their mobile users on the web.