PWAs, the Apps of the future?

One problem I notice with my phone and I am sure that most people do too, is the problem of memory. At first, I attack my photos and start to delete whatever I can, and when that’s not enough, I start to browse the apps that are on my phone, most of which I haven’t even used in a long time.

What is surprising is the amount of space apps consume on our phones, which is another reason why whenever I am asked to install an App, I tap on the back button multiple times.

Thankfully, Google has come to the rescue and has introduced Progressive Web Apps (PWA) that can replace the native apps that take up huge amounts of space on our phones and those that we don’t use often.

What are PWAs and what makes them different from Native Apps?

Progressive Web Applications are websites that look like applications and are delivered through the web. They look and feel like native mobile apps.

So, basically a perfect blend of websites and Applications.

With further developments in technology, it is becoming harder and harder to differentiate PWAs from native apps. Like native apps, PWAs have access to device hardware like Camera, Bluetooth, Geolocation, device motion, storage, and other media. This now enables PWAs to perform efficiently like native apps.

Development

Unlike Native apps that need to be developed separately for Android, iOS, Windows and so on; PWAs load on browsers and hence have to be developed only once and work the same across different operating systems.

Adaptability to screen size

PWAs also adapt to the different screen size of any device, be it mobile phones, desktop or tablets. Which is why businesses don’t have to make a separate website and app; they can just make a PWA that will adapt itself across screens.

‘Add to home screen’ option.

PWAs can be added to your home screen just like apps but PWAs work on web browsers so they don’t take up much space on your phone like apps. Example, Flipkart’s Native app takes up 10 MB while Flipkart's PWA version ‘Flipkart Lite’ takes up only 100 KB.

Offline functionality

What is amazing about PWA’s is that they even function offline using service workers that cache assets for offline storage, enabling them to work on low-quality networks and offline. Once you load a page when online then that same page can be loaded offline as well, but if you try to load a page that you have never loaded when online then you will be taken to the ‘No Connectivity’ page.

In a country like India, where network connectivity is unpredictable, especially in rural areas, PWA will enable you to reach out to more consumers.

At this point, the only difference between PWAs and Native apps is the fact that native apps take up a lot of memory on the phone, on the contrary PWAs live on the browser and take up hardly any space on the phone.

SEO

Another advantage of using PWA is that your website is indexed by the search engine, because PWAs utilize browsers hence the content inside the PWA can be read by the search engine and this will help your website to rank higher. Also PWAs are served over HTTPS, which protects the privacy and security of the users and this is especially necessary when making online transactions or filling in personal information.

Personal experience and research shows that users spend around 70% to 80% of Mobile time on apps and the remaining on websites.

Today the moment you ask consumers to install your app, chances are that the majority of users will bounce off, especially if the app is one that they will not utilize daily or often.

The top 4 categories that dominate users mobile time are entertainment, social media, instant messaging and games. So if your app does not belong to any of these categories then finding a place on the coveted home screen will be a bit of a challenge to say the least

When it comes to apps that users will use only once in a while PWAs are the way to go. Users will not be hesitant to click on the install button once they know that your app will not take up space on their phones and still provide the ‘App experience’.

PWAs also allow users to receive push notifications, which makes sure that even if the user doesn’t frequent the app daily, they will always be up to date on the latest news and offers that will prompt the users to land on the PWA.

Take Automobile apps for example. For most Indian consumers, a car is a one time purchase and even though the initial research usually begins on the internet, most users will not commit to your App by downloading it.

In such cases, PWAs are the perfect solution, because they don’t utilize space, they are responsive just like native apps, and users can receive push notification for discounts during festivals, new model launches, reviews etc that can lure users back to use the app.

Indian companies that have used PWAs have seen phenomenal results.

Flipkart has seen an increase in conversion rate by 70% and Amazon, has seen an increase of 104% in conversion rate for new users, after using PWA.

Twitter reduces its bounce rate by 20% and OLX increased its user re-engagement by 250% utilizing PWA.

We at Eccentric Engine have made a PWA for Renault’s New Triber, for all the obvious reasons stated above. Renault Triber’s PWA provides users with seamless App like experience, even for loading heavy files such as the 3D model of the car. Not only that but as mentioned before, PWAs let us reach out to customers in regions of low connectivity using service workers.

As you see in the video above, the PWA works seamlessly when offline and in the same detail as when online. You can view heavy files such as the 3D Model of the car, the features, load videos and high quality images.

For iOS users can install the PWA by clicking on the share option and then clicking on the ‘Add to Home screen’ option.