Why web based browser apps have taken over downloadable apps

Today, app stores like Apple’s App Store and Google’s Play Store boast millions of apps with download figures in the hundreds of millions. Despite that massive user base, downloadable apps have actually been on the decline since early 2018.

This is true no matter what platform you look at: both Android and iOS report decreased downloads on their respective platforms since the late 2017/early 2018 period.

It’s hard to imagine a world without apps, so why are they being used less and less in favor of web-based alternatives?

Why Apps were All the Rage Once

It’s no wonder why apps got popular so quickly since their inception in 2008. They’re fast, typically not dependent on an internet connection, and often look sleek compared to clunky mobile sites.

Well-designed apps integrate perfectly with your phone, seamlessly taking advantage of all that your phone has to offer, such as Bluetooth, GPS, or camera capabilities. It’s no wonder why consumers like apps, but on the developer’s end, apps can be something of a headache.

Apps are time consuming to develop, and they often require lots of money not just to develop but also to maintain and optimize. As phones upgrade, it often means that apps have to be redeveloped and updated as well, posing additional problems to companies.

Another barrier to their use is the fact you can’t direct users directly to the application: as most users will be taking advantage of app stores like the App store, or Google’s Play Store, to access applications, they’ll have to instead access a developer’s site through those venues. If you’re looking for a little fun and an excellent mobile app, be sure to download the Casumo mobile app.

Why Web-Based Apps are on the Rise

Web-based browser apps, on the other hand, skirt many of these issues that plague developers. Web apps are much more flexible to produce compared to their downloadable counterparts, have much less tedious maintenance requirements, in turn making them much cheaper to develop and update.

Gone are the days of having to have bulky, time consuming downloads crowd up the storage on your phone. Developers are no longer forced to essentially develop the same app twice for different phones or forced to risk alienating an entire market due to budget constraints. That doesn’t mean web-based apps are perfect, by any means.

Because they are web based and not typically downloaded directly onto the user’s phone, they don’t integrate into the phone’s native ecosystem and features. That is, however, starting to change, as Progressive Web Apps become more common.

Progressive Web Apps, or PWAs, act as a bridge between a web-based app and a downloadable app. PWAs work by being a shortcut installed on your phone, which, like a regular download, is accessible offline. They’re also special in that they’re not just restricted to mobile platforms: PWAs often have added desktop functionality. With the Play Store’s allowing of PWAs onto their platform, PWAs are only going to grow in adoption.

It’s not just developers that are enjoying the benefits of PWAs, as consumers seem to like them and other web-based apps much more than downloadable counterparts. One cab aggregator in India, called Ola, tried a PWA that was significantly smaller than both their Google Play Store and their Apple Store equivalents, and experienced a 68 percent greater traffic on their site.

Despite the benefits of web-based apps and PWAs, native mobile apps are still convenient and familiar to today’s consumers. In the future, however, don’t be surprised if you lose apps less and less and PWAs more and more!