Progressive Web Apps (PWA) mark a dawn of new era and leverage best of both mobile and web worlds. They are a classic hybrid of websites and mobile applications. Progressive Web Apps are a perfect amalgamation of technologies, design concepts, and Web APIs that come together to provide an app-like experience on the mobile web.

Let’s take a look at some of the key characteristics of Progressive Web Apps:

Service Workers

Service Workers enable your application to seamlessly work offline. Incredibly powerful, Service Workers empower offline functionality, push notifications, and content updating. In more technical terms, a Service Worker is a worker script that works in the background, independent of your app, and runs in response to events like network requests, push notifications, connectivity changes, and more.

According to Google survey, the chart below shows the average page load times across desktop and mobile for service worker controlled pages and non-controlled pages:

Image Courtesy:Google

App Shell

An application shell (or app shell) architecture helps build Progressive Web App that instantly loads on users' screens, similar to native applications. Minimal HTML, CSS and JavaScript empower user interface and when cached offline can ensure superior performance to users on multiple visits. This means the app shell is not loaded from the network every time the user visits. App Shell is a design approach and not a UI or framework that enhances the caching abilities of service workers.

Installability and App Manifest

Mobile web apps are not installed like native apps to the homescreen. The user could “pin” a mobile website to their homescreen on iOS and Android, but the user experience was not up to the mark. Further, this option is rarely put into actual practice by users. Web app manifest is a JSON file that follows W3C specifications that provides developers a centralized place to put metadata with a web app.

Does Progressive Web App work for your Business?

While Progressive web apps are not going to replace websites or mobile applications, some businesses might need a native app to achieve the desired business goals. On the other hand, some organizations might just need a standard website.

PWA’s offers the best of both web and mobile to improve user engagement without the internet. It allows for push notifications without app store submissions. For businesses that are always looking to gain first-mover advantage, PWA might provide the competitive edge.

Improved Performance

Progressive Web Apps offer robust performance and allow work offline or on low quality networks. PWA’s are basically designed to look and functions like mobile apps, letting users operate in a seamless manner while still having functionality of websites with data and database access.

No App Store Submissions

Submitting your app to Apple’s App Store or Google Play Store could be time consuming process. After all, each platform has unique guidelines and stringent approval process. With Progressive Web Apps, developers can update app and reach out to users across different platforms without approvals.

Push Notifications

Web push notifications allow users to get timely updates from sites and effectively re-engage with users. The Push API and Notification API open a world of new possibilities. Progressive web apps have the option of implementing various device specific hardware features, such as push notifications.

Challenges and Way Forward

Progressive Web Apps are still in nascent stage and provide limited cross-browser support, especially in Safari. If the developer community take advantage of the features offered by progressive web apps — such as easy to implement, robust performance, and speed — then users will consume these web apps in supported browsers, hopefully persuading other browsers to adapt and evolve.


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