Progressive Web Apps vs. Native Apps

Updated on 16. March 2024 by Jan Bunk

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In this article, we'll take a look at the pros and cons of developing a progressive web app. We'll also compare PWAs to alternatives and give an outlook regarding potential future developments in the sector.

What are Progressive Web Apps?

Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) are websites that leverage modern web capabilities to provide a user experience similar to native apps without needing to develop a separate app. They offer features like offline functionality, push notifications, and device hardware access while being accessible directly from the device's home screen. While the PWA runs in a browser, the user interface can be adjusted to make it look more like a native app, for example by opening as a seemingly separate app to the browser, which also doesn't include a URL bar and other navigation elements of the browser.

The Benefits of PWAs

  • Cross-Platform Compatibility: PWAs work seamlessly across various platforms and devices, including desktops, smartphones, and tablets. This reduces development time and costs and ensures a consistent user experience across different devices and operating systems.

  • Offline Functionality: PWAs can partially function offline or with a poor internet connection by caching content in advance.

  • App-Like Experience: PWAs offer an app-like experience without the need for users to download and install them from an app store. They can be added to the home screen directly from the browser, allowing users to access them with a single tap or click. This convenience encourages higher user adoption and retention rates.

  • Push Notifications: With a PWA you can send push notifications to your users, which is an amazing tool for increasing engagement and retention.

Problems with PWAs

  • Limited Platform Integration: Despite their cross-platform compatibility, PWAs may not fully integrate with certain device features and functionalities. Some features remain exclusive to native apps.

  • No App Store Exposure: Unlike native apps, PWAs are not listed in traditional app stores (e.g. the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store), which limits their visibility and discoverability among users. Many users will try to search for your app in the app stores if you communicate to them that you offer an app. If you also want your PWA to be available in the app stores, you will need to convert it into a native app.

  • Additional Development Effort: While it's easier to make an existing website a PWA than creating an independent native app, it still costs more time and money than turning the website into an app with a no-code solution.
  • User Awareness and Adoption: Despite their potential benefits, most users are unfamiliar with PWAs or prefer native apps. Educating users about how to install a PWA is difficult, since users only know how to install apps through the app stores.

The combination of these problems leads to extremely low usage of PWAs. In fact, install rates are so low that there don't even seem to be any statistics about them. So instead of showing you a statistic now, I encourage you to ask around in your friend and family circle to see if you can find anyone who has installed a PWA.

Apple and PWAs: A Complicated Relationship

One of the reasons for the aforementioned low usage of progressive web apps is their mediocre support on iPhones and iPads. Apple has been extremely slow with supporting PWAs on their platforms, which has hindered adoption. For example, for the longest time it was not possible to send push notifications to users - one of the most important features of PWAs.

In early 2024, Apple even announced that they will completely remove support for PWAs because of low usage. After significant pushback from users, they have backtracked. But it goes to show that Apple may just remove PWAs on a whim.

Do the Limitations of PWAs Affect

No, apps created with are entirely unaffected by the limitations Apple puts on progressive web apps. This is because we allow you to build a "real" app that displays your website. That way we can avoid many of the downsides of PWAs:


While I am personally an advocate for the open web, which also includes PWAs, I don't think they are a viable option at the moment. Even if you only want to target Android (because PWAs are pretty much unusable on iOS now), the low usage and users' difficulties with installing them would be a deal-breaker for me.

If you're still undecided about developing a native app or a PWA because you believe the popularity of PWAs will rise soon, then might be a viable alternative for you. You don't have long development times or large up-front costs as with developing a completely native app, but you get many of its benefits. It's worth it even if you think of it only as a temporary solution. Whenever you're ready with your native app, you can release it as an update in the app stores to replace the app you created with By doing that, all your existing users will get the new app automatically.

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Author Jan Bunk
Written by
Jan Bunk

Hi, I'm Jan! I created in 2019 while studying computer science in university. A lot has changed since then - not only have I graduated, but it's also no longer just me running We've grown to a global, fully remote team and have gathered lots of experience around app development and app publishing. We've created and published hundreds of apps in the app stores, where they've been downloaded hundreds of thousands of times.