Coined in 2015 by designer Frances Berriman and engineer Alex Russell, Progressive Web Apps combine the best of both web and mobile apps. They are useful to users from the very first visit in a browser tab, no install required.
PWA development services aim to take advantage of several new features supported by browsers such as service workers and web app manifests allowing users upgrade web apps to progressive web apps in native applications. According to Alex Russell, ‘Progressive Web Apps are just websites that took all the right vitamins.’
How does Progressive Web App Works?
PWA is a technology that combines the open standards of the web offered by modern browsers to provide benefits of a rich mobile experience. PWAs loads like regular web pages and offer functionality such as working offline, push notifications and much more which was quintessentially available only to native mobile app.
According to Google, Progressive Web Apps are user experiences that have the reach of the web, and are:
- Reliable - Load instantly and never show the downasaur in poor network conditions.
- Fast - Respond quickly to user interactions with smooth animations and no scrolling.
- Engaging – Feels like native app on the device, with an immersive user experience.
This depth of quality allows Progressive Web Apps to earn a place on the user's home screen. It is important to partner with a reliable mobile app development company to leverage true potential of PWA solutions.
Features of Progressive Web Apps
- Progressive – Irrespective of browser, app works for different users as it's built with progressive enhancement.
- Responsive – Seamless performance across devices be it desktop, mobile, tablet, or what’s next.
- Connectivity Independent – Performs offline as well as on low-quality networks with enhanced service workers.
- App-like – Provides app-like features separating the functionality from application content.
- Fresh – Always updated due to the service worker update process.
- Safe - HTTPS to ensure safety best practices.
- Discoverable – Let’s search engines find apps as it is Identifiable as an "application" due to W3C manifest and service worker registration.
- Re-engageable – Easy re-engagement through features like push notifications.
- Installable - Allows users to add apps they find most useful to their home screen without the hassle of an app store.
- Linkable - Easily share the application via URL, does not require complex installation.
Advantages of Progressive Web Apps
Overcome App Fatigue
Progressive web apps are incremental enhancement of already existing web technology. As such, they do not require separate distribution or approval of updates as the publication of a PWA is similar to that of any other web page. PWAs provide app-like features and functionality such as push notification, installation on home screen and much more. Further, PWA makes the task of app updates and approval quite simple and less time consuming. This is mainly because no separate approval process needs to be undertaken.
Get App-like Experience
According to Statista, there were 2.8 million available apps at Google Play Store and 2.2 million apps available in the Apple’s App Store, the two leading app stores in the world. Every app claims to change lives of users with a revolutionary idea. However, users are often reluctant to download apps as they occupy storage space on the smartphones. In such case, PWA comes across as a feasible solution. PWA removes the step of downloading as the app loads instantly on the home screen. They work on demand and are always accessible when required.
Cost Effective & Efficient
PWA apps can be downloaded directly to the mobile device as an app icon and it uses less space compared to the native apps. One of the biggest advantages is not requiring additional space on mobile device that enhances the performance of smartphones. By selecting a PWA compared to a native version of the same app, users consume less data. However, users don’t need to sacrifice the high-performance and speed of a native app. PWAs are on-demand and always accessible, without taking up a smartphone’s valuable memory or data.
Enhance User Experience (UX) with Progressive Web apps
When it comes to native apps, users need to download app on the device. In a stark contrast, Progressive web applications overcome the battle of consumer buy-in with no specific installation. The process to run PWA is simple as it just involves clicking on simple link. Many experts suggest that PWA will make app stores redundant.
PWA Success Stories
Twitter Lite PWA
Twitter decided to launch an app specifically designed and built to create an engaging experience for users on mobile devices, as well as reduce load times. Twitter Lite was first launched as a Progressive Web App (PWA) for the mobile Web in April 2017 for emerging markets. The Lite version of app uses less mobile data to work and takes less space on device. This version is especially useful for emerging markets with slow mobile networks and expensive data plans.
The Twitter Lite app is a data and optimized for storage on a smartphone.
Key features of the Twitter Lite app are:
- Quick loading on 2G and 3G networks.
- Minimize data usage to download only the images or videos you want to see.
- Uses less space—at an install size under 3MB, Twitter Lite doesn’t take up space on phone.
Starbucks Coffee PWA
Starbucks has been one of the early adopters of PWA. Built with the intention of serving customers on the go in an effective manner, Starbucks wanted to make it easy for users to quickly browse menu, create custom orders and add the list to website’s shopping cart. With a presence in several countries, including emerging markets with poor Internet connectivity, Starbucks PWA app offers several Starbucks native app features almost completely. Features included mobile ordering, mobile pay and account management functionalities available.
- Full offline functionality
- Location-specific price listings (when online)
- Fast, highly responsive performance
Starbucks is present in many countries from emerging markets with poor infrastructure.
The PWA occupies 233 kilobytes of storage and utilizes caching to make features & functionality available offline.
Uber is rapidly expanding at global level especially in emerging markets. The taxi hailing app was in need of an application that could be used by anyone irrespective of device and network speed. It developed a Progressive Web App that replicated its native applications in functionality, but at a significantly lighter weight.
Using tiny libraries and SVGs instead of images, the m.uber.com core app is only 50 kB gzipped and loads in less than three seconds — on 2G networks.
Key Technologies in Enterprise Mobile Apps
Enterprises are transforming operations with mobility. It is soon becoming cornerstone for all digital transformation initiatives such as AI, machine learning, big data analytics, cloud and more. Mobile apps are a touch point for several transactions, as well as to track customers’ interests.
Several emerging technologies are enhancing capabilities of mobile apps. While Native platform development still dominates for customer-facing apps, hybrid and web-based apps for mobile are also gaining ground. Progressive Web app is fast emerging as the key architecture to develop apps that bridge the gap between web and mobile.
PWA increase development speed, reduce costs and even simplify user experience. They provide better mobile experience with easier access to data sources and the ability to create content as a single-purpose app.