A comparison of Hybrid and Progressive Web Applications for the Android platform

University essay from Blekinge Tekniska Högskola/Institutionen för programvaruteknik

Abstract: The Hybrid approach of development has for a long time been the dominating way to develop cross-platform applications targeting both the web and mobile. In recent years, a new combination of technology has appeared called Progressive Web Application (PWA) which aims to combine Native capabilities with best practices of the web to deliver a new Native-like experience to users without the need of Native wrappers. So far PWAs have proven to be the inferior choice when it came to performance and platform support. The purpose of this study is to compare the two technologies based on a literature review and evaluate the current performance across three parameters in an experiment - battery consumption, CPU utilization and time to first activity. Two applications were developed using each respective technique, with the Apache Cordova framework being used for the Hybrid approach and the React framework being used to implement PWA features. The results showed that the Hybrid approach is better in the majority of tests, offering more in terms of platform API access and providing better performance while only being slower when it came to time it took to first activity; but something to consider is that the PWA approach was not far behind. The conclusion this study arrived at was that PWAs have developed significantly since previous studies and is almost able to match Hybrid apps in terms of APIs and performance, but that Hybrid apps are still the preferred choice when it comes to performance. Further development and a wider adaptation of the PWA specification could very well change the way developers choose to approach mobile app development in the future as well as a potential for bringing the web closer to the mobile platform.

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