Progressive Apps vs. Native Apps – What’s the Difference?

Apps are everywhere; we use them on our computers, our mobile phones and even on our televisions. Apps were first introduced to the world by Apple, when the first iPhone hit the market (yes, we know, it seems longer ago than that!) These were and remain what we know as ‘native apps’. Popular at first, the market soon became saturated with apps that did, on the face of it, very little. They were mostly replicating what was available on websites, and people soon realised that they were surplus to requirement.

Of course, the App Store is still a popular place to browse and see what the latest games and gadgets might be, but developments in website technology and design have been rapid, most notably in the world of interactivity. So the world was introduced to the progressive web app (PWA) which set about changing the way apps were perceived and used.

Part of the problem lay with brand awareness; while access to a website has always been direct, it became the norm for businesses to have an app developed – at some expense – as this was seen as necessary. When, in fact, it is anything but, especially in the world of the PWA. So, what is a PWA and why has it given the app market a welcome kick? Let’s get into the detail, although we will keep it simple.

The PWA Explained

What is a PWA? It is a website and app all in one, to put it simply. The PWA is a website that uses technology to create a site that looks and acts like an app, but without having to go to an app store, download and set it up. The benefits when compared with native apps are many, and centre mainly on the subject of user experience. The modern-day user is too busy to want to go to a store, buy an app and go through that experience; they want it here and now, and with direct access. Because of the way a PWA is structured and designed to operate, this is entirely possible, and is indeed the ultimate aim of the PWA.

The  benefits include greater consumer engagement and therefore more conversions, a more satisfying experience for the consumer in general, ease of use for both user and the owner, and a better-looking website that looks like a native app and delivers as one would be expected to. There’s a lot of development to come in PWAs but the simple fact is they are more convenient and better than a stand-alone app in every way.

Who Uses PWAs?

Looking at list of corporate PWA users is like reading a ‘Who’s Who’ of international online commerce: Twitter, Starbucks, Uber, Forbes, Trivago are just the start, and when you start to look further you come across household brands that are leaders in their markets. The power of the PWA as a marketing and business aid is still to be fully seen, but it will pay for you to get in now and reap the benefits.