The first thing that people ask if they hear you are making a tech product is
”Is there an app for it?”
At BreeZo, we have a small team of 5 people with only 2 engineers, none of whom had any prior Android development experience. The use case we are working on doesn’t require an native app, because the website works pretty well. We have great Web App and PWA, it’s responsive and optimized for mobile browsing, built with React. Yet people kept on asking about an Android App as PWA is mostly an unknown concept.
Through Chrome, one can install the BreeZo PWA which provides a near Native App Experience. But like many other developers in this industry have experienced, people are accustomed to browse Playstore and look for the Apps, that’s probably the reason why Chrome came up with TWA, so you can ship your PWA to playstore. Despite our push to explain to our users what PWA was, we wanted to give them what they wanted i.e. a Breezo App on PlayStore.
After creating BreeZo Visualizer, we started looking at the possibility of creating an app. Since the website was written in React, our first choice was React-Native. We tried webview with React Native but the performance was not as we expected and App sized 14 MB felt bloated. We asked around about Native Android development but soon realized it was messy and expensive affair, making it out of reach for an early stage startup like us.
We also tried multiple times to package our PWA into Native app using tools like Appmaker.xyz but failed to build an App due to some unexpected and irrelevant Java error in Android Studio. Since then even Appmaker.xyz has adopted TWA and started to convert PWAs into TWA.
Scrolling through the news feed, we found this article about TWA on XDA Community Blog around Feb 6, and we realized how much difference would TWA make in our quest for an Android App. It seemed pretty okay at first glance and even more promising later on. It was hard to find relevant documentation and build the APK using TWA but struggling and hustling we somehow got it working in a couple of days. And finally, we had an Android App without writing a single piece of Java code.
Our development experience was smooth and easy, TWA is built with developer experience in mind. In a company where there were only 2 developers building the whole product, we cannot the effort of replicating the same features in different languages and frameworks. It’s not only a wastage of our time but we also suffer from the pain of learning a new language, all the associated tooling and nuances.
Google’s TWA came to our rescue, we were just able to ship our web app as native app. It’s always adventurous to work with the cutting edge stuff.
Our ultimate goal was to make our App available on the Play Store and TWA enabled us to do so with minimal effort.