Progressive Web App (PWA) development

What is involved in Progressive Web App (PWA) development using the Mantrax approach?

Before we delve into PWAs, let’s quickly review the two other options – Native and Hybrid Apps.

Building a Native app requires maintaining two separate code bases (for iOS and Android) for the presentation layer. While Native apps are the most optimal for performance, security and offline availability, they are also the most expensive to develop and maintain. If you’re on a budget and under timeline pressure, you are better off going the Hybrid (or the PWA) route. They allow you to achieve native capabilities (for most parts) while using a single code base. The code gets built and packaged separately for each app market and is a great option for projects of all shapes and sizes, irrespective of the budget. There are frameworks like Flutter, React Native and Ionic which are steadily blurring the lines between Native and Hybrid apps.

Now there is an emerging third option, Progressive Web Apps. These apps are very similar to the Hybrid apps, but they don’t require an app store for distribution. PWAs can be installed directly from the browser. Doing so, you bypass the app store approval process, licencing cost, and policies completely. Apps can be downloaded straight from the web browser to the user’s home page (Desktop, Tablet or Mobile). All modern browsers support the PWA installation process (where you see an install option in the address bar) but old browsers support them equally well. There is one caveat, however. While Google Play and Windows Marketplace support PWA distribution, Apple App Store does not (yet).

At Mantrax, we deal with clients with all kinds of needs and budgets. While a PWA may not be the right option for an established product and for someone who needs that Apple App Store presence, it is a great option for the following users:

  • You don’t want to deal with app store distribution processes (it’s more complex than you think)
  • You want to give the users an option to download your web application as an app on their devices
  • You want to simplify the build and deployment process
  • You are a solo developer (or a small team) and want to be as cost-effective as possible

Digging a little deeper into Progressive Web Apps

A Progressive Web App uses web browser capabilities to give your users the functionality and experience of working on a native app. Precisely, they cater to the user’s expectation of using an app while allowing you to maintain a web application. No matter what OS your users are using, PWAs are a great option and use the following technologies:

  • HTML
  • JavaScript
  • CSS
  • Web Assembly

What Distinguishes a PWA?

Here are some of the distinguishing features of a PWA:

  • Contents searchable on Google and other search engines
  • Installable on the device's home screen – any device
  • Linkable to allow URL sharing
  • Network independent (works offline too)
  • Progressively enhanced to work on older and newer browser versions
  • Push notification capability
  • Flexible design to work on mobile phones, laptops, tablets, TVs, and IoT devices
  • Secure connections for all parties

What Are the Advantages and Disadvantages of a PWA?

Advantages:

  • Single code base for a website, mobile app, and desktop app
  • Cross-platform and cross-device functionality
  • Doesn’t require launch in app stores
  • PWAs are 5% of the size of native apps
  • Uses Service Worker API to cache content, allowing content display while offline
  • Performant, functioning well and as expected
  • No updates required

Disadvantages:

  • Requires expertise and deep understanding of JavaScript for optimal performance (Mantrax can help!)
  • Currently, Apple App Store doesn’t publish PWAs, although you can use them for iOS devices

Mantrax Approach for App Development

Mantrax Software Solutions is a leading app development company in Toronto. Our developers and other consultants bring an agile software approach to your app development project. Project managers interface with the client and internal development team to ensure we meet or exceed your expectations.

Through absolute transparency, we receive the feedback we need to deliver a minimum viable product (MVP) so you can keep your project on budget and launch as fast as possible. You don’t have to wait until the end of the project to see what’s happening with your Progressive Web Apps. Instead, we invite you to demos every two weeks, so you can give us your input and redirections as needed.

Your Top Toronto Software Development Team

Choose Mantrax Software Solutions for the expertise and full-stack technology deliverables you can trust. We straddle the front and back ends to create web apps and analytics you and your users can access anywhere!

Book a discovery call today to speak with one of our knowledgeable team members about your Progressive Web App development needs. We look forward to giving your users the mobile-friendly functionality they crave.

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