According to the statistics of mobile usage, users consume twice the amount of content on mobile devices than they do on desktops. Along with this trend, there are two solutions for Magento to form on mobile. For a long time, Native App was the best option for companies to reach their mobile customers. Now, we also have Progressive Web App, which is able to deliver powerful app-like experiences at a more affordable price. That’s why some people think that Magento PWA can become an alternative option for the Magento Native App. In this article, I will make a detailed comparison of these mobile solutions and help merchants to figure out the most proper one for their businesses.
- What is Magento PWA?
Magento PWA refers to Magento stores that are integrated with the Progressive Web App to gain a lot of benefits of this technology. There are several ways to convert a normal Magento 2 website to PWA such as installing Magento PWA extensions, using Magento 2.3 PWA Studio tools, or applying ready-made Magento 2 PWA Theme (most preferred option).
Depending on the selected integration solution that the website will inherit all of the PWA’s powerful features or not. For example, most of the Magento PWA modules can only perform basic functions like adding to the home screen and sending push notifications (remaining the same frontend and backend relation). Meanwhile, advanced Magento 2 PWA themes will replace the website frontend with the dynamic PWA storefront (connected to backend via API) to bring about a totally different experience for users. By this way, your site is much faster on desktops, smooth and convenient on mobile devices with a shortcut on the home screen, push notifications, offline mode, background sync, low data usage, etc.
- What is Magento Native App?
Magento Native App is a software program that is developed for running on a particular operating system. It is coded in different programming languages such as Objective C and Swift for iOS or Java for Android.
After developing the Native App, the store owners must submit it to an appropriate app store (e.g.: Play Store, App Store) for users to download. In general, it will take 1-3 days to get approval, and up to 24 hours for the new app to appear in the store after approval.
The Similarities Between Magento PWA and Native App
Both Magento 2 PWA and Native App are considered favorable solutions that allow merchants to build strong engagement of mobile users. Despite many differences, they still share some similarities, for example:
- Offline mode: This function allows users to access cached content even when the PWA/ native app works offline.
- Push notifications: This can be used as a great marketing tool allowing you to reach out to your users with short attractive messages.
- Shortcut on homescreen: After being added/ downloaded, there is an icon the user’s mobile home screen, representing quick access to the app.
- Fast loading speed: There is no page reloads on either PWAs or native apps, just lightning Ajax loading to transit among pages/ content.
- Optimized design for mobile devices: All of the font sizes, buttons, transitions, images, blocks,… are re-designed from the websites to show nicely on small screens.
The Differences Between Magento PWA and Native App
1. Cross-Platform Availability
- Progressive Web App: PWA is cross-platform, which can work on both iOS and Android devices with a single codebase.
- Native App: A native app can only run on one operating system (Android or iOS). An Android native app can be found and work on only Android devices.
2. Development Time & Cost
- Progressive Web App: As mentioned, you can upgrade your existing Magento 2 website to PWA with help of Magento 2 PWA Studio/ Magento 2 PWA Theme/ Magento 2 PWA extensions. It can take several hours, 2-3 months, or up to 6 months to release your PWA, depending on your selected solution.
- Native App: Brands must build separate native apps for each operating system, which leads to doubled cost and effort of development. What’s more, there are extra fees when submitting the app to marketplaces ($99/year to get a place on the Apple App Store & one-time fee of $25 for Google Play). In general, the cost of developing a native app is always higher than that of a PWA.
3. SEO Support
- Progressive Web App: PWAs can still be indexed by Google since it includes URLs for each page like a normal website, As a result, it’s possible to implement SEO on-page and off-page to improve your PWA ranking on search engines.
- Native App: Since Native Apps only can be found in the app stores, they have no relations to your current website ranking. As a consequence, you have to do two jobs at the same time: optimizing your website and boosting your app ranking.
4. Mobile Data Usage
- Progressive Web App: One major advantage of PWA is that it only occupies a small amount of data on the user’s device. For example, Twitter Lite’s PWA only makes up 600KB compared to 23.5MB of its Android Native App.
- Native App: When a Native App is installed on mobile devices, it will require a certain data amount from the device’s resources. Therefore, when users download heavy apps or they forget to close the apps after using, which can impact negatively on battery, storage space, and performance of the device.
- Progressive Web App: PWA might be more secure because it has to run under HTTPS. These security codes ensure that nobody can meddle exchanges between the client and the server. In a secure environment, customers can enter personal details and credit card information without the worry they might be stolen.
- Native App: With Native App, you have many options in other security measures. If your app requires a login, you can use multi-factor authentication and combine certificate for more secure communication. Besides, all Native Apps must pass the app stores’ security requirements before getting published.
- Progressive Web App: You don’t need to search, download and install Magento PWAs from the central app stores like for native apps. From the browser, you can easily add the PWA to your home screen just by few clicks. This feature is immensely convenient even for users who don’t know what Progressive Web App is.
- Native App: In the first step, the customers have to find the app on the App Store, and then confirm the installation. After accepting, they continue waiting for the download. For large capacity applications, download errors are very common. Besides, the users don’t even know the existence of the apps.
- Progressive Web App: Every time you make changes to your services, a PWA can keep all your users up to date. It enables them to immediately enjoy the latest functionality, features, and security updates without re-downloading the app.
- Native app: It’s compulsory to access the app stores when you want to upgrade to a new version of the app.
Which One Is The Best Solution In Magento Platform?
It isn’t easy to choose between two options like Magento 2 PWA or Magento Native App for your Magento store. However, I’m more inclined to Progressive Web App due to the powerful features it brings about and the reasonable price it requires for development and maintenance.
For small Magento businesses, selecting Magento 2 Progressive Web App is more recommended since it will them you reach a wide spectrum of customers within your tight budget.
For large Magento online stores with a generous budget, it would be wonderful if they can develop both Native Apps & PWAs to approach the maximum number of potential buyers.