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This exemplifies some of the reasons proprietary app store lock-in is bad for consumers.

Progressive Web Apps -- web apps that are installable and available offline without any app store -- are a viable alternative, and ultimately a threat to Apple's app store racket. It's likely why iOS Safari continues to drag it's feet on PWA support.






> Progressive Web Apps [are] ultimately a threat to Apple's app store racket

Honestly, no, they're not. Even the Gold Standard of PWAs - the Twitter Lite app that Google (the patron saint of PWAs) helped them build - provides an inferior experience compared to native apps.

People bring this up often - Apple refuses to improve Safari to bolster their App Store - which completely ignores all the valuable improvements Safari has made to give web apps more native-like features, like backdrop-blur for blurred backgrounds and CSS Snap points for native JS-less carousels. Chrome doesn't support either of these.


You conflate the current state of PWAs with their ultimate outcome. If web apps are as good as native for most people, there is no need for proprietary app stores. This does indeed conflict with Apple's app store business model.

And despite it adding certain CSS standards, mobile Safari on the whole remains the IE6 of the mobile browser world. Apple drags its feet on web app standards support for a reason similar to why Microsoft dragged its feet with IE6 web standards support.


I agree with that. However, what worries me about PWAs is discoverability. How can I find a catalog of available PWAs to download? Is there a way?

Counter point: the discoverability on all of the app stores I've tried has been pretty terrible. Unless I know the name of an app that I'm trying to install I almost never find what I'm looking for. Most often I search for 'the best app to do X' on Google and then put a name from that into the app store.

App store UX is so horrible I’m sure it is intentional. But I have no idea what they’re trying to achieve. In the case of Apple’s store, I have literally never wanted to browse any of the curated lists of apps, just to open the search view which doesn’t even have the search textbox focused by default!

In theory that's an easy problem: anyone could make an "App Store", especially considering they wouldn't have to host binaries or deliver updates.

Something mimicking today's stores would essentially be links you can rate and comment on. Kind of like Reddit, but with a different UI and no direct user submissions.


But crucially, they’d have no way to moderate for bad actors. You can’t just kick a webpage off the net. Things like Reddit style voting can be gamed, just like app store search and reviews are today. Whoever has the most resources wins, not necessarily who has the best product.

> But crucially, they’d have no way to moderate for bad actors. You can’t just kick a webpage off the net.

Yeah. You could technically still kick them off the store for the sake of maintaining trust— like a forum.

> Things like Reddit style voting can be gamed, just like app store search and reviews are today. Whoever has the most resources wins, not necessarily who has the best product.

Wait, isn't this like current App Store ratings though? I wouldn't be worried about this. It is already the case that many people invest a lot of resources in trying to game the App Store. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯


The App Store gives you discoverability and could be argued as being one of the reasons for a 30% cut.

If your app can be distributed as a PWA, then the question becomes: is the App Store (which gives you discoverability) worth the 30% revenue cut? For some PWAs the answer will be no.


Google could easily come in here.

Note I work for Google but have no knowledge of Googles PWA products or PWA roadmap


The same way you discover anything else: advertising, word of mouth, web search. How does the user know about Spotify in tthe first place?

Would a PWA be a viable option for an app like Spotify? I'm definitely on board with them for simple CRUD type apps

a CRUD app would work fine. Isn’t their web player a CRUD app?

You can't use spotify in browser, so I don't think a PWA would work in this scenario.

But you can use Spotify in a web browser. They have a web player at open.spotify.com .

But can you have the audio from their mobile web player continue to play in the background?

The next progressive web app that I like to use will be my first.



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