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Are Progressive Web Apps the Future for the Mobile Industry?

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When smartphones first launched and even though most analysts were amazed by the new possibilities that the tech brought to the average consumer, few could have predicted the rapid development of this all-encompassing device. Smartphones have evolved beyond what was thought possible to become an indispensable ally in a wide array of everyday activities – and most of these tasks are nowadays carried out thanks to mobile apps. As the mobile application landscape evolves, progressive web apps claim to offer the best of both worlds to users and developers alike. What exactly are they and why are they bound to dominate the industry?

Reaching Out to the Mobile User

More and more smartphones users are turning to their phones as a prime way of accessing the Internet. Global mobile data traffic has consistently gone up in the last few years and is projected to rise even more. In 2017, it amounted to 11.51 billion GB per month and rose to over 19 billion GB monthly in 2019. It is estimated that in 2019 it will surpass 28.5 billion and will reach roughly 77.5 billion GB per month by 2022. As smartphones evolve, developers keep investing in more powerful models, while the need for accessing the Web on the go and the convenience they offer has turned mobile users into key target group for businesses of all types. From online retailers and advertisers to well-established market leaders and government agencies, everyone is in search of the perfect way to reach out to the mobile audience.

There are three main options for companies wishing to liaise with their mobile clients. They could develop a mobile-friendly website that could optimize the user’s experience on a mobile browser. Yet it soon became clear that there were limitations to user experience when navigating the web on a mobile device. Native apps were developed as the answer to this problem. They offer an extremely tailored and engaging user experience, taking full advantage of the capabilities of a mobile device. Despite their obvious advantages, native apps are less able to integrate seamlessly across devices and can thus disrupt user experience when changing devices or upgrading. They also require the user to download the app, eating up space and resources, as well as money in some instances, which acts as a barrier for many consumers.

Why are Progressive Web Apps so Important?

Both options present significant pros and cons – which is why, depending on its priorities, a company may choose one of the two, or both. Netflix, for example, has gone for the native app road, focusing on how to optimize the spectator experience. On the other hand, companies like Amazon or several betting sites reviewed by Oddschecker have decided to go with both options, presumably in an effort to appeal to a wider audience and offer their subscribers more choice and convenience. Yet investing in both takes up resources and time. Enter the progressive web app (PWA): the best of both worlds. This relatively new solution aims to incorporate the better qualities of both options while dealing effectively with the downsides. Progressive web apps were introduced in 2015. They are essentially mobile applications that are hosted on the web instead of your smartphone.

There is no need for a download – you simply load it the way you would load any other website, by accessing it directly. Yet thanks to an app shell, PWAs are able to deliver key features of native apps, like offline mode, push notifications, saving on the home screen, smoother immersion, etc. This is why PWAs are considered the future of the industry: they load immediately and on-demand, without taking up valuable space on your device or going through the hassle of downloading – which is what consumers are looking for. Their flexibility also makes them great ambassadors for a business: potential clients are more likely to try out a PWA that does not require that much effort to deal with, thus increasing a company’s exposure. Finally, they are very convenient for developers, too. They are quicker to create and easier to update. They do not require separate versions for iOS and Android – instead, you can develop just one PWA and allow the browser to do the rest of the work. Last but not least, they do not cost as much as native apps.

Blending the best of both options, PWAs are more economical and efficient for consumers, developers, and businesses – and it is easy to see why they are set to dominate the mobile market.

Editor-in-Chief at DroidJournal. A tech-enthusiast, guitarist, and an anime fanboy!

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