Today I’m going to answer a question from from Colette, the co-founder of a health tech startup.​ Her question is… ​

What is a progressive Web application?

Before answering this question, let’s add a bit of context.

Colette already has a great offline business with its own practitioners network. But since her business is growing, she needs to industrialize the way her team works, provide the tools to better organize meetings, and give more advice to her clients. ​

She pictured a mobile application where clients and practitioners will be able to chat, get coaching, plan meetings, share best practices, and keep track of goals and achievements.​

After interviewing several software providers, she was exposed to multiple solutions to build the mobile-accessible interface she had imagined.

Some talked about:​

Mobile-friendly interfaces​

  • Native mobile application​
  • Mobile application in hybrid language​
  • Progressive Web application​
  • Progressive Web application embedded in a mobile app​

That’s a lot!

To make it easier to understand, let’s tackle the biggest difference between these formats.​

We mainly talk about the type of language, and these days, it can be either one or two.​

Types of language

  • Native language for mobile application​
  • Web languages​ (HTML/CSS/Javascript)​

The first type is native languages, for example, Android format or iOS format for Apple devices. These mobile applications are more expensive to develop but provide great performance​.

However, low-budget startups will prefer to use a Web language to develop mobile application.​ By Web languages, we usually mean HTML, CSS or Javascript. ​

With these languages, we can create applications that look like native ones. ​

The question is: how will the user get access to these Web applications?

As soon as you develop a Web application, there are two ways of using it: as a mobile application or in a browser. In both cases, we are still talking about Web application.​

By the way, the same application can be accessible in two different ways. Adapting from one environment to another just represents 5% to 10% of the global development budget when anticipated.​

And you’ve probably noticed that so far I haven’t mentioned “progressive Web applications.” ​

The term progressive Web application came very recently. ​

With it, it’s possible to optimize a Web application and enable certain features that had only been available by mobile apps, like notifications, offline usages, etc​.

So, a progressive Web application in its purest form is an application that wouldn’t require an installation like a mobile application would, but would still function like a mobile app—thanks to a home screen shortcut and browser notifications.​

And what made progressive Web apps even more interesting this past year, is a technique implemented by solutions similar to Native.io, which consists of loading the Web application from a website onto a mobile application. ​

Basically, it’s like publishing a mobile application that just displays the main website of your progressive Web application. ​

This practice was relevant for a while, helping startups by only having to develop one application, and being able to update it without having to go through the store review process.

That’s why in June 2018, Apple has forbidden this type of practice since it meant that companies could change the content of their applications without any type of control whatsoever​.

But what is still interesting and relevant, is to use Web languages to develop mobile applications. ​

The Web application that was on the website can be integrated in the application itself, and it’s fully compliant to Apple and Google app stores’ policies. ​

This is where one of these well-known frameworks (like Ionic, Cordova or React Native) might come in handy.​

Hybrid mobile app​

  • Ionic
  • Cordova​
  • React Native​

Conclusion

So to conclude, progressive Web applications are just more responsive applications that allow offline usage as well as browser notifications.​

By the end of 2018, very few companies have already deployed this type of application. ​

If manufacturers fully allow the usage of progressive Web applications, doing so under this format would be a great opportunity to develop a good solution at a cheaper price.​

Until then, I still recommend that you keep hybrid applications as your main solution to ensure a better customer experience with your app.​

And if like Colette, you have a specific question for your project, just go ahead and ask on myctofriend.co/ask. I will do my best to answer your question by video or to redirect you to any existing content that will answer it.

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I’ll be waiting for your questions, and I look forward to seeing you in other videos.