Today, Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) are the talk of the town, mostly thanks to their excellent usability and unique user experience. With the combined features of native websites and applications, PWAs act as a standard for multi-device web applications. They allow developers to build fast-loading dynamic applications that do not use hybrid frameworks.
I believe that Progressive Web apps are the future of websites - and in the following section, I will discuss its benefits and use cases to give you the whole picture. Go on with it.
What is the progressive web application?
Alex Russell (a developer of Google Chrome) and Frances Berriman (a designer) first coined the term "progressive web application." Alex shared his idea of the Progressive Web App. "These Apps aren't packaged and deployed through stores; they're just websites that have taken the right vitamins ."
"Sites That want to send you notifications or stay on your home screen must earn that right over time as you use them more and more. They gradually became "applications ", Alex wrote about PWA. Finally, he concludes, "these applications can provide an even better user experience than traditional web applications ."
Web application versus progressive web application
Web applications, or traditional web applications, are client-side applications that run directly in the web browser. Although they are better than websites, they are problematic. If you don't know the difference between a web application and a web application, the web application is different from the website because the web application looks like the original application.
Progressive web apps are the next generation of web apps that behave more like native apps by using device-specific enhancements. For example, progressive web apps can use native features like cameras, beacons, etc. along with features like offline caching, push notifications, etc.
Why do we need progressive web apps?
We have native apps, on the one hand, fast and reliable even in the worst situations like slow or disconnected. But then, we have websites and web apps that work slowly and don't work well in network conditions. That is why most people prefer a native application.
Accelerated mobile pages sites (AMP), a Google-recommended project, was started in 2016 to address slow connection issues, especially on smartphones, and provide a user experience. Better for mobile users. However, AMP does not solve the problem; there is no network problem. Besides, it does not accelerate download time as much as the original application, and again, it has some limitations to achieve this speed.
That is why we need Progressive Web Applications. PWAs provide the best user experience possible in slow or no network conditions. For example, PWAs can display progress screens while loading content or splash screens when there is no corresponding web connection.
Why do progressive web applications make sense?
As per comScore's 2017 US Mobile Application Report, app users spend almost 77% of their time on their top three apps, the rest of inactive apps. Dynamic but still blocks system resources, including memory. It also shared that 50% of users download the application 0 per month. This shows that users are hesitant to install new applications, and therefore, PWA has the advantage.
I see people mostly visiting websites on a desktop but prefer mobile apps (native apps). The reason is, computers provide more network resources than smartphones and applications consume fewer resources than their partner websites. Besides, they are speedy and reliable.
Native applications cost much more than web pages - five to ten times more or more depending on the project. Besides, their costs can multiply if there is a need to develop native applications for multiple platforms (say Android and iOS) with different code bases. However, PWA can help reduce such high development costs thanks to its support for different platforms.
Progressive Web Application Features
Progressive web applications have many direct features that make them different from simpler counterparts, that is, web applications (or more simply - websites):
- Response: Works on all devices of any screen size.
- Offline first: The download is slow or no network.
- Acts like an application: Look and interact like an original app.
- Update: Self-updating and transparency.
- Safety & Security: Use HTTPS to load page resources.
- Can explore: Leverage content for search engines.
- Rejoin: Rejoin, say use notification.
- Can install: Can be placed on your home screen.
- Link: Loads the same page as the app, but has the URL.
What I find interesting is, Progressive web apps not only look like native apps but also have access to the device's native features. That means PWAs can take pictures of you with your device's camera. However, I have to share that it does not have access to limited features such as location, phone or SMS.
Note: You can read more about its features and other details in this article.
Create progressive web applications?
Google provides a "Progressive Web App Checklist" - a detailed list to help beginners create Progressive Web Apps. This non-instructional list shares the features needed to develop PWAs - a "PWA Baseline" and an "exemplary PWA"; The list is first for the essential things for a basic application and the following is for an advanced application:
There are many tools to assist you in building PWA. For example, Lighthouse is an open-source, a free tool to improve a website that includes quality testing of accessibility, performance, and PWA features. Another feature tool is Workbox, which helps build applications with an offline experience.
Are progressive web applications in future?
It may not solve all our application issues by using the Progressive Web App or replace the native application shortly. But, I believe it will play an important role, thanks to Its benefits far outweighing its limitations. And with almost every major platform starting to support PWAs, near to now, we will see them everywhere.
Apple has introduced PWA (Web API) features in Safari 11.1, including Beacon API, Service Worker, Web Application Manifesto, etc.; so bring PWAs to iOS soon if not already. Google already supports PWAs in Chrome for Android, and they are also planning to bring it to desktop platforms. Microsoft has also added support for PWAs in Microsoft Edge and will also list them in the Microsoft Store.
What do you think future progressive web applications? Let me know directly at @cliffex or write a comment through the comment section below to leave your feedback.