For mobile services, the native application has traditionally been the champion in user experience quality and smoothness of service, but the Progressive Web App is preparing a title challenge. The Progressive Web Apps developed by Google look and feel like native applications: they enable offline support and push messages, and can be displayed in the device’s application list like native apps.

“It is a common philosophy in digital services that the website is for occasional visitors and the app for committed regulars”, says Qvik’s Head of Design Matias Pietilä. “PWAs are starting to enable equally functional services for both user groups, which makes the admin’s job easier as well.”

It is no surprise that viable alternatives to traditional mobile apps are starting to crop up. The statistics are not on the side of the apps. You already lose some potential customers in the multi-stage installation process with its searches and downloads. And even those who do download the app rarely open it more than once.

In many cases, therefore, a PWA can serve the customer better, but not always. It is still easier to offer continuous services that require in-app payments and login through native apps. PWAs are currently not able to access the user’s contacts or use sensors like Bluetooth and NFC. In addition, not all functionalities of PWAs are currently usable on Apple devices.

APPLE STILL HAS ITS HEELS DUG IN, BUT PROBABLY NOT FOR LONG

Apple has not updated its operating system to support PWAs, so they function only partially on iOS devices. Safari does not support all PWA functionalities, such as essential service workers, which hinders the implementation of reliable offline functionality. Push messages also require a native application in the iOS.

The strengths of PWAs include icons that you can save on your home screen and full-screen web apps, things that the iOS has supported from the beginning. However, the function has been eclipsed by the App Store frenzy and not developed in ages.

“A service can run smoothly in Safari’s modern browser view in the iOS, but this makes repeated use difficult,” Pietilä says. “Then again, if you save the service as an icon on your home screen, the iOS will open it with the older, slower UIWebView browser view, hurting the user experience.”

The reasons for Apple’s behavior are not hard to grasp. If PWAs make a real breakthrough, billions of App Store revenue could evaporate. Pride can also be a

factor,

since even though Apple was a pioneer in web apps before the launch of the App Store, PWAs are made by the competition.

Nevertheless, it is highly likely that the resistance will not continue for long. Apple cannot afford iOS devices to fall behind Android in user experience on modern websites.

SOME PRACTICAL IMPLEMENTATIONS

Twitter made its mobile version PWA-based in February.

Flipboard’s mobile version is PWA-based.

A collection of interesting PWA services.

AliExpress increased conversion by 104% with PWAs.