Progressive Web Apps still have a long way to go

PWAs’ near-magical abilities to use web-based technologies and target only one platform belies the fact that that platform isn’t fully cross-platform either. You are, in fact, tied to the web browser (or browser engine) and the capabilities and limitations it may have. What may work in Chrome may not be supported on a platform with a different browser framework, like iOS, for example.

Then there’s the fact that these web browsers and technologies don’t have access to all the hardware and platform features that native apps enjoy. It wasn’t that long ago that browsers couldn’t use fingerprint scanners or do AR. The list of features that PWAs can use is sure to grow, but that means waiting for it to happen when native apps can easily access it.

Offline support is not as reliable as it seems. Certainly, the same is true for native applications which are by nature based on an Internet connection. Some PWAs may allow users to continue working with whatever has been cached on the device and then sync the changes back to the server when an internet connection is available again. This could potentially be more work for the developer who needs to ensure that the application properly caches and syncs the data without corrupting it or causing conflicts.

Then there are the somewhat thorny topics of data ownership and privacy. Web apps and especially PWAs still have the option of storing their data on the device itself, but most will likely only store a cache for offline scenarios, placing the bulk of user data on a remote server. This may be due to technical limits on the amount of local storage web application access or it may be to simplify the job of having data on the server only. You may own the data you create with the app, but the company stores it remotely as well, data that could also be intercepted in transit.

Comments are closed.