Importance of Digitalization in Modern Times, Digitalize or Die
In view of the Corona crisis, many companies are faced with the challenge of digitizing their corporate processes in the shortest possible time: employees working from home and processes online. If you don’t react quickly, you might be breaking tomorrow. Under normal circumstances, apps are a perfect way to digitally map processes simply and efficiently. Unfortunately, such a carefully thought-out and sustainably developed app takes time. This is not only due to prototyping but also to the app stores with their sometimes time-consuming approval process, which is even more complex at Apple than at Google. Control of the apps
the two tech giants don’t want to give up their hands. Of course, this also has many quality advantages for the user. But there is a way to bypass the app stores and that is Web Apps.
But first of all, what are the differences between the various mobile and web apps?
What is the Difference between Native, Hybrid and Web Apps?
These are mobile “applications”. They are specially developed for either Android or iOS. This programming is done in the programming language of the corresponding mobile platform. On iOS, that’s Swift these days. It used to be Objective-C. Kotlin is used on Android and it used to be Java.
They have also been developed for the mobile operating systems from Apple and Android and are installed on smartphones via the app stores. Hybrid apps are not developed in a native platform programming language (Kotlin / Swift), but are “translated”. Alternatively, they are packed in a native container – and then delivered to the stores. These two app types can only be distributed via the app stores – with the corresponding prior examination procedure. The advantage of a hybrid app compared to a native app is that it only has to be developed once (and then translated or put in the container). In return, quality and speed suffer somewhat.
The situation is different with the web apps. Like a normal website, they can be called up directly via the web browser and do not have to be submitted to the apps stores and published.
What is the difference between a web app and a website?
The differences are not exactly defined. As a rule, however, a web app is much closer to a native app than to a website. It offers the user a user experience that he knows from mobile (native) apps. So-called Progressive Web Apps (PWA) have recently been introduced and thus even better user experience.
What are the advantages of the PWA?
- It looks and works like an app.
- It can be installed like an app
- As an app, it also works offline.
So PWA is neither a standard nor a technology. It is more about a technological trend with the aim of creating a user experience whose convenience comes very close to native apps.
Users can download PWA completely free from the Internet onto their smartphones. You do not have to (or cannot) use the Apple or Google app stores for this. PWAs are freely available and installable like apps. This fact goes against the interests of Apple and Google. That’s why it’s a little more complicated to install PWA – especially on Apple devices. To do this, go to the menu of the web browser and look for the point “Add to start screen”. This sets a “bookmark” on your start screen for the corresponding PWA. And that is also the main reason why PWAs are not spreading faster. As a user, you first have to come up with the idea of installing the PWA.
Is a PWA always a good solution?
PWA has many advantages. The biggest advantage currently is that it can be launched much faster than a natively programmed app. Otherwise, as always, the use case decides on the choice of technology.
Native apps are always the best choice when access to device technology or the quality of the user interface are a priority. The technological superiority of native apps can be clearly seen, for example, in the HealthKit Medical Data, log in via Face ID or in offline storage.
In smaller projects without complex technological requirements and with tight budgets, the hybrid apps are ahead of the curve. However, if the app is to be further developed and the technological requirements become more complex, then the restrictions come to the fore and the price advantage disappears. Airbnb, for example, initially relied on a hybrid app based on the React Native framework but has since replaced this with a native app.
When it comes to using cases such as content management systems (CMS) or internal dashboards, PWAs are a good alternative to natively programmed apps. The development cycles can follow one another quickly and are not slowed down by the app store reviews. Even a more complicated installation process is usually not an obstacle here. Most often, however, the PWA is used as an extension of the website. For example, for users who don’t have an app on their mobile phone want to install because they rarely need the application. Pinterest has – probably precisely for these users – acquired a PWA in addition to a native app. Other well-known PWAs come from booking.com, Twitter, Trivago, and Flipkart, an Indian online shop that has tripled the time spent on its pages and increased conversion by 70 percent.
As always, when planning app projects, the following applies: The use case decides on the most suitable solution.