4 Ways to Access and Install PWAs (That Don’t Include Going to the App Store)

Michelle Lawrence Picture

by Michelle Lawrence | Last Updated: Apr 27, 2020

If you’re a glass half full person, you’ve likely found one of the (ironic) perks to social distancing has been extra time to catch up with friends (virtually, of course). Group FaceTime has been our usual platform to catch-up virtually, but in week six of social distancing, I’ve run out of updates to give my friends. So we wanted to shake things up a bit by downloading the HouseParty app, which has various games that you can play during your call. Like the procrastinator I am, I waited until seconds before my weekly call with my friends to download this new app. After a painful two minutes (Yes, I am aware this is a third-world problem) the app was finally installed on my phone and I was ready to join the chat. Regrettably, my friends were well into their conversations when I logged on. Now I ask you, what’s one of the worst things a Millennial can experience? FOMO. If the app downloading process had just gone faster (or I had remembered to download it earlier), I would have heard how my friend’s banana bread recipe had turned out. These are desperate times people! I’m clinging onto any human interaction possible. As I went about my conversation with my friends, I couldn’t help but think how much faster the installation process would have been if the app had been a Progressive Web App (PWA). Don’t know what a PWA is? Here’s my SparkNotes version: it brings together the best of both worlds of native functionality with the responsiveness of a website that installs to your phone in a matter of seconds. How do you install PWAs on your phone, you might ask? There are four unique ways to download a PWA to your phone that you can incorporate into your mobile marketing strategy. Text Because PWAs are hosted behind a URL, you don’t have to go to the app store to download them. This is good news for marketers because you get to decide how your users activate the mobile experience. Texting is a popular option when it comes to installing a PWA because it’s a process that we’re all familiar with. You can easily use text to activate your PWA by having consumers text in a keyword to a short code and then replying to the text with a link to the PWA. If you want to test-drive an example, check out the app that was created for Linking Indy Women. Tap Consumers are tapping left and right to pay for their items at the store, but have you ever thought it was possible to tap for an app? Near-Field Communication (NFC) enables you to place an NFC chip on almost anything (we’re talking soccer balls and beer glasses) for consumers to scan with their phones to access the experience. Imagine the innovative campaigns you could create to prompt consumers to access your PWA! Scan This next option will speak to event marketers. Let’s say you are holding an event and you want your attendees to download the app you’ve created. You’ll probably get a few eye rolls from the crowd because they’ll have to search for your app in the app store, download it, remember their password, and hope they have enough storage space on their phones to acquire another app. And this is the case only if you have willing participants. So how do you get attendees to access your app at a conference? Drum roll, please….QR codes! I was at an event where the speaker encouraged attendees to access the event’s app and she projected a QR code on her PowerPoint slide; people were loving it. Attendees were eagerly scanning the QR code right from their seats. But QR codes aren’t only for events. You can place a QR code on almost anything and expect the same results from users. Click Myth: PWAs only work on your phone. Fact: PWAs can work on mobile phones, tablets,  and desktop. The fourth way that you can access a PWA is by clicking on a URL. If you need a new party trick to impress your family, you’ve come to the right place. Go to Twitter.com on your computer. Okay, now find the “+” icon on the right side of the URL bar. Click “Install”. When I was going through these steps, it took less than a second to install the Twitter PWA to my computer. Are you not entertained? Brands have seen enormous success with customers accessing their PWA on mobile devices. Let’s try installing the Starbucks PWA on your phone. First, go to the Starbucks’ PWA on your smartphone. Click the “Share” icon on the bottom of the navigation. Then, scroll down to the option “Add to Home Screen”. From there, you’ll see the app’s name and icon that will appear on your device once it’s saved. Click “Add” and you’re the proud new owner of a Starbucks PWA. If you’ve already got the Starbucks native mobile app, compare the two to see which one takes longer to load. 👀 Stop relying on the app store to host your brand’s mobile app experience. With PWAs, you control when it gets published, how many times the app gets updated, and how your users install the app. Check out our State of Progressive Web Apps: Q1 2020 for a complete update on what’s new with PWAs!

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