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Video: Progressive Web Apps vs. Native Apps, Part 2: Cons

Learn more about progressive web apps at Streaming Media's next event.

Watch the complete video of this presentation from Streaming Media West, T204: HOW-TO: Getting the Most Out of Progressive Web Apps, in the Streaming Media Conference Video Portal.

Read the complete transcript of this clip:

Pieter-Jan Speelmans: An argument that we hear very often is, "Well, it's a progressive web app, but it's still JavaScript. It's not the same as if you're running native code," and that's indeed true. You will take a small performance hit if you start doing this, like you have when you're running JavaScript. But then if you look at the alternatives that a lot of other people are using, they want to simplify their app approach as well. They look at things like React Native or NativeScript and they develop their application in JavaScript and then just build it into a native application.

Something that not that many people know is that if you actually use a React Native style approach, it's even worse compared to what a progressive web app is simply because there are, for example, on the iOS platform, some limitations that Apple has built in which remove the capabilities to do just-in-time compilation, which basically is a wide JavaScript. The performance state of JavaScript isn't as big compared to normal native code. But if you do, for example, React Native on iOS, you still have that performance hit, and it's bigger compared to when you do it in Progressive Web Apps.

Another thing which is kind of limiting the Progressive Web App approach today is that you don't have access to all the sensors which are in your mobile devices. The web APIs have come a very long way. You can do a lot of things. You can access the cameras, you can access a number of sensors like the orientation sensor. But if you want to do fingerprint authentication, for example, then you're more or less out of luck for now.

Another thing: I don't know if it's really a big negative but it will be a big negative in some development teams. I'm actually expecting a very big religious war on the fact that it's not really native. It's always a question. One of the approaches is, of course, better, but it's not set that the Progressive Web App approach is less good than the native approach in every used case. There are actually quite a lot of used cases where running Progressive Web Apps makes a lot of sense. It is the use cases where you don't have the heavy compute tasks. There you don't really need the big optimizations that you have in the native code.

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