Current PWA limitations & entering the “mainstream”

You may have heard the term “PWA” or “Progressive Web App” thrown around a lot over the past couple of years. If you don’t know what a PWA is, give it a quick google.

PWA’s (Progressive Web Apps) have been held in the light of being the future of mobile applications. I agree 100% with this statement. Whether or not they’re called PWA’s in the future, web applications in your browser are certainly going to be the next major transition in cross-platform web development. The opportunities and market for them are going to be mind bogglingly big – this topic itself is a monster.

So, where do we begin? I’ll come right out and say it, PWA’s are not quite there yet. They’re not quite ready for mass adoption as there are limitations, especially across devices. For Android, they’re perfect there’s no doubt about that! But for iOS on the other hand, it’s just not there yet. Here’s an interesting graphic on mobile OS marketshare from Lanars.

This graphic is not a be all and end all – in certain countries iOS is the leader. In April 2017, 728 million iPhones were in use worldwide! That’s a huge market that should not be forgotten about. Here are a couple of reasons where iOS is lagging in the PWA field, and why PWA’s are not yet industry standard.

Adding apps to home screen

iOS does let you add PWA’s to your home screen and launch similar to a native app, but… It’s a process that people need guidance on – you need to press the share icon, scroll down a little and then click “Add to Home Screen”, then click “Add” again to confirm. This is way too many steps for mass adoption. Unlike Android where they allow banners that appear on the website encouraging users to add it as an app. It’s just not user friendly enough across all platforms and that is one of the major flaws of PWA’s.

Push notifications

Once again, Android is way out in front here! You are able to send push notifications to users, even when the PWA is closed, just like a native app. Unfortunately iOS hasn’t caught up with this yet, and does not allow this feature. This feature alone would be enough to make a big move forward for PWA’s.

There are more reasons, this is just two major flaws preventing PWA’s from taking centre stage and killing it. Is Apple afraid they will bring an end to the app store? Probably. But regardless, PWA’s won’t end the app store – there will always be a need for native apps.

Don’t let this discourage you from building a web app

So just because PWA’s aren’t ready just yet, don’t let that turn you away from developing a web application. Web applications themselves bring so much value to business without the need of them being used in an offline mode. Better yet, they’re easily adaptable to being a PWA when the time is right! Think to the future, use a web app as a stepping stone so when the day comes, your business is a step ahead of your competition.

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