progressive web apps

Progressive Web Apps – The future of web application development

 
Today there are a lot of talks devoted to Progressive Web Apps. In the technology world, many believe that PWAs are the future of apps for benefits they provide, including in-app like web experiences, offline functionality, and push notifications.

Recently mobile web has become a priority for users, expecting to receive such features as high engagement, instant content loading, and app ability to work on all devices. Since PWAs allow all of these things, they help companies increase customer loyalty and retain users, improve brand awareness, and boost sales.

Thanks to this technology, AliExpress managed to provide an amazing user experience, attract new customers, and increase conversions by 104%. Other giants, for example, Twitter, Flipboard, Washington Post, and Paper Planes have already created their PWAs and now enjoy the results.)

Perhaps, you should also think about Progressive Web App development and take a competitive advantage? In this post, we’ll make a complete overview of this kind of applications.

 

What are Progressive Web Apps?

 
A Progressive Web App is a web application that uses advanced web capabilities to provide app-like engaging user experiences. PWAs are deployed to servers, accessible through URLs, fit any device, and indexed by web search engines.

Apps of this kind deliver things we want to see in native applications to the mobile browser experience, using standards-based technologies and running in the container which can be easily and securely accessed on the web.

Simply put, PWAs are about the combination of a mobile and web app, describing a set of tools, design concepts, and web APIs working together to ensure an app-like experience on the mobile web.

While in order to install native apps users have to move to the App Store or Google Play, pass product search, and only then download the app, PWAs significantly simplify and reduce the process.
 
The general process of downloading mobile apps:

  • Open the store and look for the app
  • Click download
  • Accept permissions
  • Wait when the app is installed
  • Open the app
  • Sign in to the app
  • Start using the app

 
In Progressive Web Apps, everything is much simpler:

  • Visit the website
  • Add to home screen
  • Go to home screen and open the site
  • Start using the app

 
There is a plenty of characteristics of Progressive Web Apps that help better understand what are they and show their advantages. Take a look at the list below:

 

Progressive Web Apps are:

 

  • Reliable – Progressive Web Apps instantly load and are connectivity independent, so they can work offline and even on low-performed networks.
  • Progressive – PWAs are created with progressive enhancement as a core tenet, helping them work equally well for every user irrespective of the browser and user location.
  • Responsive – Progressive Web Apps fit equally well any device whether it’s your desktop, tablet, mobile, or anything else.
  • Safe – apps of this kind are served via HTTPS, which helps prevent snooping and meaning that your content can’t be tampered with without proper authorization.
  • Always updated – The content is always up-to-date due to using service workers.
  • Engaging and re-engaging users – PWAs provide engaging user experiences on the web with the help of such features as push notifications delivered even if the service is offline.
  • App-like – feel like natural apps, offer app-style navigation thanks to an app-shell model. Also, PWAs provide an immersive full-screen experience (witр no need for an app store) and Web App Manifest enabling users to manage how the app is launched and the way it appears.

 

Service workers

 
Concerning the way PWA functions, first of all, we should mention service workers, the technology behind Progressive Web Apps. A service worker is a script, independent on your application and triggered via such events as connectivity status changes, network requests, and push messages.

Exactly service workers enable features like offline functionality, content caching, background synchronization, content updating, and much more. At the moment they are officially supported by Chrome, Firefox, and Opera.

The main disadvantage of Progressive Web App development is that Safari still doesn’t enable service workers. However, Apple guys hint at PWA (service worker) future support and seem to have already started working on it.

 

App Manifest

 
The Web App Manifest is a simple JSON file, enabling web app developers to manage how the app is launched as the way it appears to users. For instance, programmers have the ability to control things like home screen icons, screen orientation, theme colors, the URL that’s opened, the page that will be load at launch, and more.

 

App Shell

 
App Shell represents a design approach, implying that the initial load of a mobile web application enables a basic shell of UI and the subsequent content loading. It isn’t a Web API or a framework, but a simple quality design model that programmers can follow in their work.

Thanks to using caching capabilities powered by service workers, App Shell loading goes very fast when a user visits the app and returns later. Having the shell of application UI and the content load separately helps enhance app usability and user perception from working with it.

 

Push notifications

 
Few words should be said about push notifications. In Progressive Web Apps, they can be triggered either locally or pushed from the server. Even if the application isn’t running, a push message will be successfully delivered to the user.

Sending push notifications is possible due to the use of two APIs – the Notifications API and the Push API. The first API allows the app to display system notifications. The second one enables service workers to handle push notifications from the server.
 
As you see, Progressive Web Apps power a lot of cool features and offer various advantages. Here at Smartym, we believe that PWAs are the future of custom web app development for their simplicity, convenience, and a perfect mix of mobile and web.
 
If you have questions about the topic or think about starting PWA development, apply to us and we’ll provide you with a free consultation! Having high expertise in building web projects and working with advanced technologies, we’re always ready to help you!