Mobile Optimization: Progressive Web Apps Vs. Native Apps

Any company that provides digital services and information wants to provide its visitors with optimal user experience. In addition to the mobile-friendly website, apps are an important option for improving usability. With progressive web apps and native apps, website owners have two options. What this is all about and which option is better for SEO, you will learn in this article.

With the advent of smartphones, Internet usage has changed dramatically. Internet content can be accessed almost everywhere, depending on network coverage. The user can shop, inform or communicate at any time. Web and app development company must optimize their services for mobile devices. In addition, mobile friendliness is a ranking factor in mobile search. But beyond that, apps can deliver optimized content for smartphones and tablets.

General information about apps

An app development company develops apps that offer the advantage of increasing customer loyalty. Anyone who is interested in the offer and installs the corresponding app is more loyal to the brand. According to statistics, more than 85 percent of users use their smartphone with apps. A website that want to reach mobile users with their web offer should, therefore, consider the popularity of apps.

However, unlike websites, apps must first be installed on the smartphone before they can be used by a user. Two different types of apps can be used: native apps and progressive web apps.

Native apps

Native apps need to be designed specifically for a specific operating system. For this, the app development company will charge higher development costs. Native apps make great sense on the technical side since native apps can use all the advantages of an operating system.

Thus, these apps can use the existing hardware such as cameras or sensors in the best possible way, since they are optimized for the corresponding operating system.

Advantages of native apps:

Native apps can back up data to the limit of available storage on the mobile device.

Paid native apps can increase a company’s revenue through the app store, and therefore, drive development costs.

By hosting native apps in the store, app development company do not have to worry about sales.

After installation, the app icon is automatically listed on the home screen.

However, several app versions for the different operating systems must be developed, published and maintained. For updates of the respective operating systems, it must be made to the app via the respective App Store.

A big disadvantage of native apps is also the high-cost factor. The costs do not only affect the app development itself but also the maintenance of the app.

Native apps are all apps that are listed in the respective app stores of Google, Apple or Microsoft and can be downloaded there by users. Common applications for native apps are services provided by service providers and companies, mobile versions of online shops, and smartphone games. Perfect examples of a company’s core native app are Instagram or WhatsApp.

Progressive Web Apps (PWA)

Progressive Web Apps are based on a Google initiative. Basically, these are not really apps but rather a modified website that adapts to the respective output device or the browser used. The functional principle of the PWAs is based on the approach of progressive enhancement i.e. the idea that a website can be successively adapted to the technical setting of a device.

The development of Progressive Web Apps is based on open web standards. The markup is separated from CSS, as well as content and design are separated. Also, JavaScript is separated from these two elements. This ensures that all content is always available and can be viewed on the device. At the same time, this ensures minimal functionality of the PWA, regardless of whether the output device or the browser supports JavaScript or CSS.

When a Progressive Web App is launched, the app shell is placed as a base in the cache of the device or browser. Thereafter, the core elements can be loaded immediately. The App Shell itself consists of the minimum of HTML, CSS, and JavaScript that a web page needs for performance. It is, therefore, a kind of code bundle with which the user interface is provided on the device and the content can then be loaded dynamically via an API.

Unlike mobile websites, PWAs have many features that native apps also provide. In principle, Progressive Web Apps combine the advantages of native apps with the advantages of responsive, mobile-optimized websites.

Common features of PWAs and native apps include the following:

The app can send push messages to the user.

The app can be saved with an icon on the screen of the smartphone.

Many functions of a PWA can also be used without or with only a very slow internet connection.

However, PWAs are at a disadvantage when it comes to hardware integration. For example, no fingerprint sensors or Bluetooth can be integrated into the functionality. Currently, there are still problems with Apple’s iOS in particular, as the operating system does not yet fully support the Progressive Web Apps. Thus, the use of PWAs remains limited on Android devices for the time being.

Benefits of using PWAs over native apps:

There is no need for a separate code base for programming because PWAs can also be developed with HTML5.

Progressive web apps can be found through Google search because they are completely indexable.

Updates do not need to be updated through an App Store. Instead, the web app is updated using the service worker.

A PWA can also be used offline by loading content and functions into the cache of the device. If an internet connection is available again, functions and contents can be synchronized with the server.

The app development company charge a significantly lower price compared to when developing native apps. This is also because a PWA works on all platforms and no separate versions are needed depending on the device.

For the distribution of the app, no store is needed and the user does not need to install anything because the app works with the browser.

Now that you know the difference between Native apps and PWAs, you can determine which one is the best for you and you can contact an app development company for the development. Both apps have advantages and disadvantages. It is for you to choose the one for you.