Which Platform is Easiest for Publishing a Progressive Web App?

Since their introduction in 2015, Progressive Web Apps (PWA) have been viewed as a potential way to break the grip that native apps have had on the mobile app ecosystem. Drawing an audience however, isn’t as easy as writing your PWA and watching the users flock to it. The most effective way to reach users still is to publish your app to one of the major app stores (Google Play, iOS App Store, Windows Store). Judah Gabriel Himango did just that and had very different experiences across the stores. Luckily he decided to share the lessons he learned so that you can be aware of potential pitfalls when publishing your app.

Himango found that there were a number of barriers to entry to get an app added to the various app stores. The first one was cost and here Apple makes it toughest on developers. They currently charge $99/year to list your app in the iOS app store. Google charges a one time fee of $25, presumably to reduce the number of junk apps and spammers. Microsoft on the other hand offers free access. This is likely serving as an enticement to app makers due to the low number of apps in their store.

The second hurdle is that a PWA won’t work out of the box on the various platforms, some amount of native capability needs to be added for the PWA to integrate into the OS. For Apple, you’ll need to use a Framework like Cordova to write a native wrapper to interact with the OS. Microsoft requires developers to have their PWA talk to a proprietary Windows JavaScript API that gets injected into the process while running on Windows. Google makes it easiest for developers by allowing them to write in JavaScript and let Chrome on Android pick up cues from the code.

Step number three is registering for the app stores in order to submit your app to them. Here Google and Microsoft have registration processes that can be completed within five minutes. Apple on the other hand took nearly a week.

Himango goes on to cover other areas such as App Packaging and Submission, Testing and App Review. Of these the only clear area where Apple comes out on top is the review process where they come out ahead due to their use of humans to review apps.

In the end Himango chooses Google as having the best overall process for submitting your PWA into their store. This isn’t surprising given Google’s embrace of the web as a Platform. It also isn’t surprising to see Apple come in last in this analysis as their business model tilts heavily towards support of native apps.

Be sure to read the next Application Development article: How to Evaluate the Hidden Costs of Serverless Architecture

Original Article

I built a PWA and published it in 3 app stores. Here’s what I learned.