The term Progressive Web Application (PWA) refers to a special kind of application that is created through the use of modern web technologies and that follows basic web standards. Essentially, a PWA is a web app that operates much like a native app. But what are the differences between web and native applications?
On the one hand, web apps are more accessible (especially to new users) as they can be easily reached through a web browser. When using web apps, users do not need to install the application on their computer or mobile device. Also, web apps are hosted online, on a web server, which means they can be easily updated and used in all sorts of devices and operating systems. In other words, there is no need to push updates to multiple app stores nor to users directly.
Native apps, on the other hand, are the ones that users have to download and install locally on their devices. These are the apps we regularly download via app stores or app marketplaces. In general, native apps have a greater speed and performance than web apps because they can work in better synchrony with the device’s hardware and native features (including the camera, GPS, and microphone). However, native apps are more expensive to develop and are not always compatible with all devices (each operating system needs its own version of the app).
In short, progressive web applications (PWAs) are reliable, fast, and engaging. They bring together the best of both native and web apps. So despite being a web application, PWAs are compatible with any device and, in practice, look more like a native app than a web browser application. PWAs can work on any browser that complies with the most basic browser standards.
Unlike conventional web apps, PWAs are not strictly dependent on an internet connection, meaning they can continue to run under poor network conditions or even offline. Also, PWAs can run in the background, are always up-to-date, and can easily be shared with a simple link.
Other than that, PWAs count against web traffic, meaning that, unlike native apps, they can boost the analytics of a webpage in terms of page views, which is beneficial for their overall ads, and search performance.