Will PWAs Replace Native Android/iOS Apps?

The need for companies to appeal to mobile-based customers is well established by now. Today, we do not ask if they should do it. The only question is “how.” A company that seeks to target people on smartphones has several basic options: develop a progressive web application (PWA) or create a native app. Of course, you can also build a responsive website, but this solution tends to be outdated and less pleasant in terms of UX design. So we are going to focus on the first two solutions.

In this era of mobile platforms, Native Android/iOS Apps vs. PWAs debates have gotten much harsher. In simplest terms, native apps are apps for a particular platform/mobile device that can be acquired through an online store. In their turn, PWAs are mobile applications delivered through the web that can work on any platform/device. This revolutionary technology has provided the ability to predict the death of traditional applications as we know them. However, some specialists are much more skeptical about their predictions. 

The progressive solution, the PWAs, mitigates all disadvantages of native apps while offering the best elements of responsive websites. Native applications are limited to certain devices and require users to download them, which means losing the advantage of impulse behavior. At the same time, they offer a better UX. In this article, we are going to find out if progressive web apps really have the potential to replace native Android/iOS apps in the future or we are just buying into all this newest hype.

Read also: WHY BUILD A PWA?

Actually, each solution provides specific benefits to both users and app owners. So let’s check them out in detail.

Advantages of Having a Native Android/iOS Application

Native applications offer the best possible experience in terms of functionality, usability, features, and UX design:

  • Easier debugging. Since the programmers only have to focus on a single platform (Web, iOS, or Android), it is easier for them to fix bugs
  • Functionality. Native apps allow accessing the full potential of a device, which includes the use of GPS, camera, etc 
  • Intuitiveness. Native applications feel more natural in terms of usage and provide a high-quality intuitive/interactive design
  • Security. Native apps get you better security, while most of the traditional apps built using Java, HTML, and CSS are relatively vulnerable
  • Higher performance: Hative apps offer a higher capability to interact with the hardware and greater overall device usability


Drawbacks of Developing a Native App

  • Need for updates. Native apps need to be frequently updated both for OS updates and for all the fixes and bugs that occur permanently
  • Higher cost. Native app development requires more work, which adds to the cost and time of development
  • Lack of flexibility. Native application development is being performed on a particular platform, be it iOS or Android

Advantages to Getting a PWA

In most cases, if you open a PWA on a smartphone or laptop, the overall experience would be very close to a traditional site. In addition, this type of apps offers even more mainstream benefits:

  • Unlike websites, PWAs are capable of interacting with the hardware, providing the ability to use numerous device features (push notifications)
  • PWAs are extremely lightweight when compared to traditional apps. That is why the app scroll works better and the UX design feels more fluid and natural
  • PWAs allow pre-caching. As a result, when you go offline, at least some of the website’s features would still be working
  • PWAs do not require installation. All you need to do is enter the URL. At the same time, just as with the traditional app, its icon can be pinned onto the browser’s screen.
  • PWAs support “service workers” and “manifest”

Drawbacks of Developing a PWA

  • Limited access to some hardware components
  • Limited offline execution
  • Inability to build a strong re-engagement for iOS users; iOS support starting from v.11.3 onwards

Read also: DESIGN TRENDS FOR 2020

Can PWAs Replace Native Apps?

Well, there is a high possibility that the sites of tomorrow will be completely replaced by progressive web applications. But what about native apps? Having something that is platform-independent and at a much lower price is a great choice for many businesses. At the same time, getting a native app instead of a PWA allows for a great user experience without being tied to the web framework. All things considered, we do not think that progressive web applications will completely kill native Android/iOS applications. At least, not in the nearest future. However, they will continue to win in their field due to the following reasons:

  1. Sharing with PWAs is simple

Most of the content on Apple/Android apps cannot be easily shared with a short link. PWA allow for a more convenient method of sharing.

  1. PWAs indirectly improve SEO 

Progressive web apps reduce friction, speed up the indexing process, increase the performance, and user engagement as there is no need to initiate any updates or download anything.

  1. PWAs provide a unified experience

The possibilities are endless with progressive web apps. They basically run on anything that supports a browser. With progressive web applications, businesses do not need to maintain highly paid support teams.

  1. There are too many native applications out there

App stores are overflooded with traditional apps. In order to stay out from the crowd, new businesses will have to come up with something new yet less expensive.


Key Takeaways

Based on everything we have experienced, heard, and read, progressive web apps truly are the future of the app world. Someday they will drive native applications out of existence. By now, native apps do have a huge competitive advantage over PWAs like twice as many features and or much better user navigation. At Loonar Studios, we believe that it is too soon to get them off the table. But if you need help creating any type of app, do not hesitate to contact us. Cheers!