What are PWA’s?

By UBU on September 5, 2021

Web Technologies

What are PWA’s?

Have you ever wondered; how do you make an App? Or maybe, you’ve always wanted to turn your existing website into an app? Well, now there is a solution; Progressive Web Apps!

Also known as PWA’s, they are the newest format of creating a mobile application which is hosted on the internet. Essentially the app is like a Hyperlink, which is on your mobile home screen, which then renders an application. It is almost indistinguishable from a Native App (an app that has been built for a particular platform, such as the PlayStore)!

But what exactly is the difference between a PWA and a native app?

Well, as we mentioned earlier, a PWA is still a website, to be more specific it is a HTTPS website. This website must be ‘installable’, meaning it should be able to install onto your mobile device. This is done through a ‘Web Manifest’ file, which has the different image icons for the different platforms and devices to visibly display on the home page.

PWA vs Native App UBU Blog Image .jpeg

However, an application on your phone should be able to work even when your device isn’t connected to the internet.

If you want this to be the case for your PWA, it means that there must be a ‘Service Worker’ file to be able to store data on the device and essentially not have to render the website from the internet each time the app is opened. This is normally a JavaScript file which can perform actions in the background, such as push notifications, as well as ‘cache’ resources.

These two files are what differentiate a regular website from an installable PWA.

Now, you may be wondering, why would you not just develop a regular native app for the different platforms instead of opting for a less conventional approach? Surely there must be disadvantages or drawbacks to PWA’s?

You would be surprised!

We have already covered the fact that a progressive web app act as apps and that they can run offline, so they have the same fundamental utility as a native app. However, they tend to be lighter in resources consumed which means your mobile device can process it better.

PWA UBU Blog Phone Image.jpeg

One big advantage to PWA’s is that they are cross-platform, meaning that they can be stored on any device from any browser. They do not require a ‘closed app store’ which removes the limitation developers have by designing apps specifically for a particular platform using the required framework in order for the app to be compatible.

However, PWA’s can be wrapped up into a native application, so you can actually add it to the play store for example!

They can be used on almost any piece of hardware since it’s a web page hosted on the internet. Old iPhone models and Androids are able install these applications and run them regardless of their software. The need for back-end updates is very significantly reduced for developers!

PWA UBU Blog Phones Image.jpeg

Finally, Progressive Web Apps have organic SEO and hyperlinks which means they are referenced and accessible from search engines such as google and can display content on websites such as Pinterest. The advantage is that their visibility is much higher than native apps which need to be accessed from an App store, which essentially is a closed system and has much less organic traffic than something like a search engine!

However, there are still a couple drawbacks for PWA’s today, although there are not that many!

One of these is the fact that Bluetooth features cannot yet be integrated into websites and hence the PWA. Connecting external hardware via the app is then much more complicated as there is no Bluetooth compatibility.

The current Graphic Rendering or GPU computing is considered to be better on Native apps currently for example video games. This means that PWA’s which are heavy in content could perhaps see better results rendering if done as a Native App.

Certain very outdated browsers (not going to mention any names ? ) can be a limiting factor for PWA’s install ability. This is however only a problem for those who are still using these extremely outdated browsers.

PWA UBU Blog Browsers Image.png

In Conclusion..

The web is evolving! New technologies are coming out at a faster rate than ever…

PWA’s are a perfect example of how the structure of the internet is changing. Being light, your Progressive Web App will be the gateway to an exciting user experience for all of your visitors.

Native apps are becoming more and more outdated, especially from a perspective of payments. Apple takes a 30% commission for all in-app purchases, who would want that in 2021?!

It is important that competent developers stay up to date with progress in order to deliver their clients quality futureproof results. If you are one, we here at UBU highly recommend you get educated on how to develop PWA’s as they really are possibly the future of the Mobile experience of the Web.

If you want more information on PWA’s, other exciting web technologies, or perhaps you want to develop one for your business, get in contact with us and we would be happy to see how we can help! ?

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