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Why progressive web apps are the future

What is the difference between the well-known (native) apps and progressive web apps? What are the benefits of progressive web apps versus the native apps?

"App fatigue"

Since the first app store on the Iphone 3G in 2008, you can’t imagine a phone without apps. These so-called native apps (apps that you download from an app store and install on your phone) have been a great source of innovation. However, the hype has gone down and today an average American downloads 0 apps per month. You may also recognize this yourself. There are 5 essential apps on your phone that you use regularly, while the rest is only opened very rarely.

This of course doesn’t mean the end of (native) apps. There are applications where a native app is still the best choice. Think of a completely offline use of the app or integration possibilities with other apps. However, space has been created for a new development in the app world. This new trend is the progressive web app (PWA). A cross between a mobile (native) app and a responsive website.

The era of the progressive web app

PWAs are apps you can find on the internet. You can access them via every browser on each device and doesn’t have to be downloaded through an app store. This is a big advantage because the threshold to use it is by far lower than with an native app.

Another benefit is that you just have to write one code for the development of the PWA you can use on all devices and browsers. This in contrast to traditional apps where you have to develop and maintained three separate apps for PC, Android and iPhone. That makes a great difference in the development costs. 

The benefits

  • You don’t have to install the app. Everything can be accessed directly via the browser of your phone or computer.
  • One place for development. No more need to develop separately for each platform. Something that has a big influence on the consistency and development costs of your product.
  • User experience. You offer an user experience that people can relate to because of the native apps the are used to.
  • Speed ​​in use. A PWA is many times faster than a traditional website.
  • Speed ​​in development. The app does not depend on app stores and therefore does not have to be reviewed by Google or Apple. This speeds up the development.
  • Easy to find. PWAs can be found by Google, something that is not possible in the app store. It is therefore easier to be findable for your end user.
  • Similar functionalities. Popular functions of native apps (adding on the homescreen, using sensors and camera, push notifications etc) are also available for PWAs.

In my role as an user experience designer at Koek, I think about how users experience and use progressive web apps. For me, the biggest challenge lies in creating an user experience that feels like a native app for both Android and iPhone users. Users must feel familiar with our products immediately. That is the challenge that makes my work so muchh fun!

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