App Development: The 'Why' of PWAs or Mobile Applications
A different take on choosing your App product.
Mobile usage is an integral part of daily life. The use of mobile phone apps in today’s society is almost imperative to complete day-to-day tasks. Better means of communication, easy access to applications and better exposure to the latest news.
The barrier to entry, especially in the world of technology, is high. It is important for businesses to understand that the barriers to app development come in the shape of both ‘natural barriers and ‘un-natural barriers’.
The ‘un-natural’ barriers to entry can often come in the form of cost and regulations, while building in the tech industry, these two factors can contribute a lot of frustration when trying to enter the market.
Once entered into the market, ‘natural barriers’ are often the factors that will set your business apart from the rest. Brand loyalty, an understandable barrier when a business solves a problem for their consumers. Why would they want to try something new?
When choosing your software product, the target market for your business becomes crucial and should be one of the deciding factors.
What are the alternative App solutions?
Ever heard of a PWA?
Progressive Web Apps combine many of the advantages of native apps and the Web. PWAs evolve from pages in browser tabs, enhancing it to provide a great native-like experience for the user. Think of it as a website built using web technologies but acts and feels like an app. There is no need to download the app from any App Store, you simply save the PWA to your home screen, and you’re done!
Pinterest is a great example of a PWA. A site that was under utilised due to the tedious time it took to load information, often users would leave the site before the main thread finally had a chance to load. Pinterest made the decision to focus on creating a PWA because they were interested in international growth. Although the site needed some improvement, this venture wasn’t started to improve user experience with the app. This was a business decision. One of the many advantages of PWA’s, is that not only is it independent from app stores, but it's got a much wider reach than a native app. PWA’s are built using web technologies, therefore they work in any browser making it more accessible to users.
While a PWA sounds like the perfect solution to a cost-efficient, wide reach application, it does have its limitations. Although PWA’s are meant to work offline, there is a limit as to how effectively they can work offline. When using PWA’s, operating systems have very strict rules across them, especially on IOS and some features may not be available to users.
Why is it important to know the difference between a PWA & Native Mobile App?
A Native application is built for a particular mobile device (smartphone or tablet). Native apps can be found on specific app stores, such as IOS and Google Play. Users need to install the apps directly onto their smartphone via the app Store.
Many consumers are much more familiar with a native app than they are with PWA’s. The biggest difference between them is that PWAs can be accessed through any browser, whereas native apps are built for a specific operating system on a mobile device.
Native apps are renowned for their user experience. They build specific interfaces for each operating system in order to give their consumers the best experience while using the app. They can provide this experience because they have access to the devices hardware including, GPS, camera, Bluetooth etc.
Native apps do have higher quality user experience with greater number of mobile features. However, it is important to understand the drawbacks for developing native apps. The trade off for complex features and a great user experience is a lengthy development process and a higher cost. Having to wait (days) for the various app stores to approve your app for testing, only to wait another day or two for app stores to approve your app again before it gets to the store. This type of delay would heavily impact time to market and could cost businesses. Although the development process is similar to that of a PWA, the costs of developing this type of application can often be a deciding factor.
How do business owners solve this problem of choice?
There has been a lot of information about what a PWA is vs Native app, and while that technical discussion may be useful to some, it does not ultimately answer the question, which solution will be the better choice for my business?
Each product targets different businesses needs, and aligning those needs with that of your target market, may help you determine which product would work best for your consumer. If you’re looking to re-engage customers on your platform through e-commerce, a PWA could be the product for your business. It is constantly updating, has a link to SEO (search engine optimizations) which is favoured highly by Google, pushing your platform higher in rank and works in most web browsers giving access to more consumers.
In a different example, the business you're in requires a product with very complex features. These features would need access to the devices hardware to make the experience more high-end – in this case a native app would be your best option.
Ultimately, the more innovative the technology, the more the conversations will revolve around, ‘which product is better’. Businesses need to have a detailed look into what their customers need, what problem are they trying to solve, how high their barrier to entry is, and which technology will meet all those business requirements.
Each of these products fulfils a different need for your customer. At SovTech we offer all of the above and more! Not only do we design, build, deploy and maintain your software, but we can help give you the best advice possible for what your customers need!