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All you need to know about Progressive Web Apps

An introduction to PWA

Progressive Web Applications are a combination of a mobile app and a web page, delivering the best of both experiences. Essentially, they utilize modern web capabilities, yet, deliver an experience of an app.

At an average, people use websites 4 times more than any app. This means for every 1 application being used, there are 4 websites being used. For most of the users, the process of downloading the application and registering on it turns them off. This time-consuming process draws the users away most of the time. A progressive web app has features and usability of an app without the process that draws away the users.

What are Progressive Web Apps?

The term Progressive Web App was first coined by Alex Russell and Frances Berriman . A progressive web app is not a new framework. Instead, it allows a uniform functionality and experience so that they are responsive in every browser that user is using and fit in any form or factor. This simply means that Progressive Web Application can deliver the same experience on a tablet, Android or iOS smartphone.

There is a no denying fact that the mobile browser audience has increased over the past couple of years. The Progressive Web Apps (PWA) help developers and marketers to adapt to this changing user behaviour. PWA has the features of an app but also functions like a website. This makes it powerful and useful for the customers. As a combination of the native web app and a regular website makes PWAs faster as a mobile website and useful as a native app.

Why Progressive Web Apps?

There are numerous reasons to use Progressive Web Applications. Some of the top reasons are:

  1. They Are Fast: More than 60% of the population still uses 2G internet speed. The slow speed makes users wait to load the website. In some cases, the website even doesn’t load properly. In such cases, 53% of the users abandon a website.
    PWAs provide a consistently fast experience as everything happens fast. As you can cache the data, the app starts faster without the limitation of the internet speed.
  2. User Experience: A lot of people do not even download 1 new application in a month. The advantage with PWAs is that they feel like native apps. They simply sit in a home screen and send notifications just like the native apps. This experience makes them seamless and integrated.
  3. User Engagement: Most of the users today spend time on the native apps. Mobile app reach is 3x compared to the reach of native apps. Most of the users are not engaged. With PWAs, notifications can be sent to a user to drive the real engagement.
Why Embrace Progressive Web Apps

The technology behind PWAs is Service Worker, which is extremely powerful and robust and enables the offline functionality, content caching, background content updating, and push notifications. Service worker is a script that works behind the scenes and runs in response to the network requests, connectivity push notifications, and connectivity changes. A service worker acts as a proxy for these kinds of requests.

The onus of the growth of progressive web applications is a lot on the fact that mobile and desktop browsers have embraced service worker as it lets website function like an app. It works as a proxy and when it is not connected to the internet, everything is cached that a user needs.

With the push notifications, all the fresh data is delivered to the app when the internet connectivity is restored. This ability to work offline is important to various users especially when there is an issue of connectivity in rural areas. Since Progressive Web Apps work on all the devices, the overall development and maintenance cost are low. They are quick to install and can easily take advantage of user device updates and browsers. This makes them easier and cheaper to maintain.

Concluding Remark

There will always be an argument that PWAs are essentially not native apps. Hence, they are not as secure and performant as native apps. But, these shortcomings will disappear for a normal user. There are users which prefer to have the same look and feel no matter if they are using it on PC, iPhone, Android Mobile or Tablet, or Desktop.

Also, since PWA is a web app, it becomes easy to migrate to a fully fledged device application. The traditional online only browser based pages can also become offline applications and can be added to the home screen of your device.

Hiren Kanani Chief Technical Officer

A resident wizard for iPhone, iPad, Objective-C, Swift, Unity 3D, AR, VR, AR Kit Development and Xcode App Development. Nothing gets him more obsessed than a tricky coding problem or the challenge of finding a more efficient way to deploy a technology solution.