Thursday 14 September 2017

Progressive Web Apps - End of Native Apps?

Until recently we believed Mobile Apps is the future. In our perfect world companies introduced their products and services in Native Mobile Apps which served their end customer in an efficient way. Except, retaining mobile users was a challenge, as Apps needed installation, setup and numerous updates over time.

Secondly, Search engines like google could not read the content hosted inside the mobile apps.  On the other hand Apple was serving only controlled apps in Apple store. Thus, companies had three variations in serving the content to the users, The website, iOS and Android Apps. It seems like a lot of effort yet, mobile users browsed internet via browser more than they used Apps. This raised the need for an App that doesnot need download or install, and also ran in browsers, which enabled access across all devices and browsers.

Proposed by Google in 2015, Progressive Web Apps marks a new beginning in Mobile computing. Simply put “A Progressive Web App uses modern web capabilities to deliver an app-like user experience.” – Progressive Web Apps.  

Studies show that, an app loses 20% of its users on average for every step between the user’s first contact and the users beginning point to use the app. A consumer first find the app in an app store, download it, install it and then, finally, open it to make configurations to use it. On the other hand, with Progressive Web Apps, they will be able to immediately start using it, eliminating the unnecessary downloading and installation stages.

Source : Social

Recent advancements in the browser technology, availability of service workers , the Cache and Push APIs have enabled web developers to allow users to install Progressive Web Apps to their home screen, receive push notifications and even work offline.  Progressive Web Application takes advantage of a Native or Hybrid App’s characteristics, resulting in improved user retention and performance, without the complications involved in maintaining the mobile application.

The future is now

All good and great but when and what situations Progressive Web Apps are right match? We know that Native is usually recommended for applications that expects users to return to frequently, and a progressive web app is not any different. 

Case study : Financial Times

Flipkart uses a progressive web app for its popular e-commerce platform, Air Berlin uses a progressive web app for its online check-in process, allowing users to access their tickets without an Internet connection. And the early adopter Financial Times uses Progressive web app to enable users read the news even offline and provides consistent experience in content selection and usage.

In a nutshell, Progressive web applications are like Good old websites, except they are better and in par with mobile native apps. Using modern browser technologies, they are:

1. Discoverable – Can be searchable through search engines.

2. Installable – available on home screen without installation from app store.

3. Linkable – Share using a link.

4. Network Independent – work online and offline.

5. Progressive – regardless of browser choice (of course safari is yet to catchup)

6. Re-engaging – draws attention

7. Responsive – any screen size, desktop, mobile or tablet.

8. Safe – Has mechanism to prevent snooping.

In conclusion

So its suffice to say the apps landscape is changed forever and we need to rethink the way we approach building Mobile apps for existing applications. People with Native apps already have a website presence, a iOS and Andriod App so they anyway need to keep it updated. Instead of managing three it would be wise to manage one in this case PWA. However if someone dont have an app then its no brainer which one to choose while preparing for a scalable sustainable application. To know how you can benefit from using Progressive Web Applications please feel free to contact us here.

   Srivatsan Aravamudan

   Telephone:+65 62689551
   Fax:+65 62689858
   Business Analyst - Snr Software Consultant.

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