November 13, 2019

Released on Google Play

David Granado @DavidGranado

Given that I wanted links to be the main distribution method for the app, I was heavily relying on simple web technology. On android, I am leveraging the pwa installation capabilities and on iOS, I'm leveraging the "add to homescreen" functionality. However, I still need to build in prompting around iOS since it doesn't provide that.

That said, I'm starting to think that some users won't really click with the idea of installing an app from anywhere but an app store.

I'm giving the Google Play store a trial run. However, I don't want to lose the ability to quickly iterate.

Tech tangent: I am releasing this as a Trusted Web Activity (TWA). A TWA is slightly different from a hybrid app using a web view (like Cordova or Capacitor). The default for most hybrid apps is to bundle up your assets and place them in the app meaning you have to update the app for every change. And app stores have terribly long tails for updates.

Additionally, the web view is a slightly different version of the operating system's browser, leading to weird one-off bugs.

However, a TWA is just your browser in an app with the full capabilities and access to everything. For example, if you are signed into ShopLystr in your browser, you'll already be signed in on the app from the app store. If you sign out on the app, then you'll be signed out in the browser.

This seems to be the holy grail of "write once, run anywhere". Meaning, I can meet customers where they are (erm...might be) in the Google Play store without much work or losing any capabilities that they would have had with a PWA install.

If I can find customers here, it will hopefully be a signal that will justify taking on the headache that releasing on the Apple App store will surely be.