Digital Skynet - Death of Native Apps

Death of Native Apps. PWA and React Native for Web

January 31, 2020
#WebDevelopment #PWA

How many apps have you installed on your phone lately? Statistically speaking, chances are that not many if any at all. 85% of mobile users use only 5 applications regularly with more than 65% not downloading any new ones at all on any given month. If you are planning on creating your own, you have to keep these numbers in mind. But don’t give up on your ideas just yet. There may be some better options for you to consider.

Suspect #1: Progressive Web Applications

What is a PWA?

Progressive web applications (PWA) are steadily conquering new grounds. Areas such as eCommerce, aggregators and social media are among those that have been at the forefront of the adoption of this technology. But what exactly is it? In short, PWA is a type of website that has app-like functionality. It includes a set of principles, that web portals can choose to adhere to. It includes such features as installation to the home screen, offline functionality, push notifications, background processing and more.

PWA features

Who Can Benefit From It?

The three most impactful benefits are reliability, performance, and engagement. This is because they are always working, have a large list of features and are easy to use. What’s just as important is that PWAs retain their complete functionality across all devices without any installation requirements. It’s easier to convince clients to visit a website rather than install a new app that will take up space. As a result, many companies are switching to this technology.

This makes perfect sense from a business standpoint. PWA development is much cheaper than the creation of an entire mobile app. This makes the barrier of entry quite low and accessible. It boosts the SEO discoverability too since every PWA can be scraped and appear in searches. In general, this approach is more preferred by users too. It combines the best of both worlds. It’s as easy to use as a website and as complex feature-wise as a native software.

The industry that has taken the most advantage of this technology is eCommerce. Industry leaders such as AliExpress, for example, have seen an increase in their number of monthly visitors to 666+ million after adopting PWA. 

To learn more about progressive web application and their benefits for this business area in particular, check out our dedicated article.

Suspect #2: React Native for Web

What Is React Native?

Before describing React Native for Web let’s first look into what React Native is by itself. It’s an open-source JavaScript-based framework that is used to develop mobile applications. It is used for the creation of apps for iOS, Android, and even virtual reality headsets. As you can see, it’s not originally made for the purpose of web development. It uses a different set of primitives. Its Document Object Model (DOM) is not suitable for web browsers as it is. It doesn’t have a WebView or UIWebView. However, the features of this framework can be expanded with the help of special extensions like the one we’ll explore in this article.

What Is React Native for Web?

With a large number of various tools and a huge community behind it, it was only a matter of time before a web development solution appeared. React Native for Web provides all the necessary tools that you need for web application design. This includes support for multiple input modes, RTL layout, and integration with React Dev Tools.

Most of the React Native APIs are compatible with this technology. Once you write the code it’s rendered the same across the board. It works well with React DOM components and can render to HTML and CSS using Node.js. It is already used by such giants of the internet as Facebook, Uber, and many others.

Should You Use It?

You have to consider a few things first before choosing this option though. You have to be ready for frequent updates since both React Native and the web version are still in development. While it is great regarding the stability improvements and new features, you’ll have to update your project as well. 

React Native for Web shows great potential. It’s a bit too early to tell whether this method will catch on though. It’s still in development and many components aren’t yet supported. However, the elements that work do so without any issues. This platform isn’t perfect - anyone working with this framework would confirm that - but its continuous growth in popularity will only improve it going forward.

Will Native Apps Actually Die?

Even if they will eventually die out, it promises to be a slow death. The existing web pages won’t go anywhere and a lot of traditional websites will still be created. However, the more tech and business-savvy people and especially companies will adopt at least one of the two practices we described earlier at an even faster rate. As a result, this is a trend you will definitely see more often.

The democratization of technology is already happening. These practices will become more and more accessible in the future. Soon there simply won’t be a legitimate enough reason to create an outdated and inferior web app.

One thing left to consider is the mobile marketplace. There is money to be made there. As a result, established brands like Twitter, for example, will use both native and PWA versions of their service. Also, companies with complex apps that can’t be easily converted into a web page will still be a fixture of any app store. In fact, they will dominate the field of mobile software since more providers will switch to PWA or React Native for Web instead. It won’t be a momentary change. Old habits die hard after all. Instead, it will be a steady trend that people will discover more and more as this technology advances.

App Fatigue Statistics

In Conclusion

Things do indeed look bleak for simple native apps. With emerging alternatives that are objectively more convenient to use it becomes harder to justify the creation of entire applications. The same functionality can be achieved through a web portal without any storage space required. Your software will have to be worth it and offer more advanced functionality.

In this native apps vs web apps debate, there is a clear winner, it seems. This change is definitely for the better. Not only does it give birth to new types of web and mobile development, but it also benefits the general user by raising the quality over quantity ratio of app stores. The customer is at the core of any business. This approach offers you an opportunity to enhance user experience with all the benefits that come with that.

React Native for Web and progressive web apps provide a superior alternative to the simple traditional applications. As a result, if you’re planning to create one of your own, look into the functionality you want and choose which type of development works best for your project. If you’re not sure or need an independent evaluation, Digital Skynet will gladly provide you with a free consultation.

You May also like