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What’s so Progressive about Web Apps?

Published: 9 Oct 2023

At ATS, creating powerful stories through great content is central to what we do. But a close second to this is choosing the right technology for the job – helping clients identify which solution will ensure the maximum reach for their audiences.

As part of our growing toolkit of audio guides, multimedia guides, and apps – our new PWA has many of the features and benefits of a traditional app, without requiring visitors to download anything to their phones.

In this article we will attempt to demystify the two technologies and present the advantages and pitfalls of each.

What are Native Apps?

A native app is downloaded to a device and accessed through an icon on the device home screen. Native apps are installed through an application store (such as Google Play or Apple’s App Store).

What are Progressive Web App’s (PWA’s)?

A progressive web app takes advantage of the latest technologies to combine the best of web and mobile apps. Think of it as a website built using web technologies but that acts and feels like an app.


  • A PWA can be viewed through a browser on a desktop, tablet and mobile – it resizes to suit the device it is viewed on
  • A PWA has the look and feel of an app experience – buttons, graphics, menus etc.
  • Provides a simple BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) to visitors – particularly easy for overseas visitors who may have different devices
  • Quicker access for the visitor – no need to go to the app store first
  • Convenient access – use a QR code or RFID in the physical world to send visitors to a URL (a web address of the PWA), or share a link in the digital world (from an email, digital ticket, website, social media channels)
  • Cross-platform – faster to update (no app store approval checks – just update the PWA website)
  • PWA’s can use camera & location features on the devices (e.g. for use with interactive maps or triggers)
  • You can add a shortcut ‘button’ to the PWA to your home screen – just like a native app
  • Caching content – a PWA can download content temporarily for an ‘offline’ experience – particularly useful at sites with no wi-fi, or poor phone signals
  • No app store fees (web hosting fees or a PWA subscription may be required)


  • Some hardware phone features are not accessible from the PWA – such as the proximity sensor or Bluetooth
  • PWA cannot use beacons to trigger content – the user has to manually trigger – pressing a button (not a bad thing if we’re honest)
  • PWAs can be slower in their use compared to a native app – you may notice slow interface transitions for example, or a slight delay whilst it loads any media (such as audio, images, video – which a native app would have downloaded in advance)
  • PWAs drain the battery faster than native apps
  • On Apple – PWA’s are supported from iOS version 11.3 (2018)

The reason that many of our clients love their PWA’s is they can be integrated with our cloud-based Content Management System (CMS) called ‘WorkSpace’. We’ve designed a beautiful looking app experience that can be updated easily at the click of a button. This ensures that sites can keep them up to date with changing visitor information and offer a truly effective digital visitor experience.

Not sure what you need? Get in touch to speak with a friendly expert to help you identify the best way to reach your visitors.

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