Truly speaking, the best case scenario would be the perfect concoction of native apps for mobile and the web-based entities. As much as the industry is shifting towards the ‘mobile first’ approach, the ‘mobile only’ has already backfired for most e-commerce setups. Companies are now looking to invest in both websites and mobile applications but the ratios do dwindle with time. Most services and products are sold over both these platforms and the firms are often confused as which one to give precedence to.
Tussling between mobile apps and web-based solutions has never been easy for the latter. Moreover, the sudden shift in the modus operandi of most e-commerce websites are fast opening up the gates for something called the progressive web apps. These apps can be considered synonymous to an approach adopted by Facebook in 2015 with the concept of instant articles. While the instant articles allowed the user to post directly over Facebook, they were never considered as the perfect solutions when hybrids are considered.
However, Progressive Web Applications do differ in some key areas and might just be the futuristic solution for the masses.
Defining ‘Progressive Web Applications’
While the native mobile applications have always been the epitome of global recognition, progressive web applications bring out the best of both worlds by offering a web-centric touch to our requirements. These applications load quickly and can even work offline. Moreover, push notifications can be sent out with these while being synced with the home screen of the concerned device.
Most vendors, including Microsoft and Google are leveraging these web apps in the best possible manner for accentuating the entrepreneurial options.
Advantages of ‘Progressive Web Apps’
When it comes to these web applications, advantages can be tabulated based on the user preferences and even the perspective of the developers. When it comes to the developers, Progressive web apps need not make way into the app stores. This is why developers can shell them out, openly without having to worry about licenses and compliance issues.
Every native mobile app needs to go through the publication process in order to get certified. Web apps need not go through this grind and can work independently.
Lastly, instant bug fixes are offered and even a host of new features are added— more frequently than those found over the play store. Developers can, therefore, be more creative while shelling out these apps in open.
User-centric benefits include a pleasant user experience and the flexibility of accessing the application over any device. Lastly, these apps take up lesser space as compared the native applications or even the hybrids.
Most online marketplaces face challenges concerning the overall development of the platform. Be it higher bounce rates or lesser conversions, mobile web or the mobile-only approach do come with their share of roadblocks. This is where progressive web apps come in handy as they load quicker than expected. Moreover, higher retention rate is also guaranteed on using these web-centric applications.
E-commerce websites like 5miles have been largely benefited by these progressive web apps. The bounce rates declined and the user-engagement rose up courtesy offline compliance.
Quite recently, Most mattress selling firms are opting for these apps in order to increase the conversion rates. Having these progressive web apps at the helm means that it will be easier for the users to look at options and reviews sans internet connectivity.
So the question is why most firms are not yet opting for these progressive web apps. These entities also have their set of limitations which will be enumerated in the next section.
Disadvantages of ‘Progressive Web Apps’
These applications cannot be found over the play store and other forums which actually works against the company to some extent as the firm loses out on some of the potential traffic.
Separate web-logins are required for accessing these applications as Facebook and even Google plugins cannot retrieve data like conventional apps.
Unlike native apps, progressive web applications cannot be accessed or unlocked via biometrics— including fingerprint and iris scanners.
Most of the basic apps do not offer web app compatibility and we do need something that supports Service Workers. If the browser is capable enough of intercepting network requests and returning cached response, we can consider it useful for offline usage.
At present, only Chrome and Opera Mini offer such levels of functionality.
The road to willful acceptance of these web apps looks pretty long but as developers, we can be optimistic of a grand revival. We need to work on the basics of hardware compatibility and browser support before putting these on the same pedestal as the native mobile applications.