Progressive Web Apps
The number of web and cloud apps is growing every day. Today, there are 2 billion websites in the world and among them, 400 million are active. Mobile apps are growing at an even faster pace. There are close to 4.2 billion mobile apps in the world consumed by 4 billion mobile internet users. If you look at the global mobile app market, it is captured by two companies, Google, and Apple. The global mobile operating system market is dominated by Google’s Android with a 74% share and Apple’s iOS is 23%. Native apps are not confined to mobile. Windows has always had a rich native application eco-system. Windows applications are typically written in C#, C++, or even C. Other platforms, like Linux, cannot be excluded. We can classify these as desktop or workstation-based applications.
Whats is PWA?
In simple terms, Progressive Web Apps give you the feel of a native application while you are browsing the web on your mobile, without actually installing the application on your mobile phone.
These Apps use features of web browsers and progressive enhancement strategy to bring a traditional App-like user experience to web applications. Progressive web applications have the same speed, responsiveness and comprehensive capabilities of websites with database access and automatic data. They are capable, reliable and installable, and can reach anyone, anywhere and on any device with a single codebase.
- Progressive & Responsive
Progressive web Apps should work on any web browser and progressively enhance themselves for browsers with more features. Once you build a PWA, you don’t need to worry about what browsers or devices users use.
You can install a PWA to your desktop or mobile device. The PWA will appear in your Start menu, desktop or applications, with a minimum of fuss and without much change to the code.
- App-like Look and Feel
The App-like appearance is essential for user experience and functionality. A PWA is added to the home screen in the same way as a native App, and offers many of the same features like offline mode and push notifications. Due to the responsive nature of progressive web applications, they are more user friendly and attractive.
- Better Performance
PWAs cache and serve text, images and other content in a specific, efficient manner, allowing them to operate like websites which significantly improves the running speed. Better performance has a huge impact on user experience and conversion rates, and as a result, a progressive web App can improve customer retention and customer loyalty.
- Fast Installation
The usage threshold is low as no new App needs to be downloaded from an App distribution service. There is no need to search, download and update a PWA as with a native App; rather, users can download the App quickly and directly to their device. This presents a significant advantage, as it streamlines the process and reduces customer abandonment.
- Offline Operation
One reason to prefer building a native mobile App over a progressive web App has historically been that a mobile App can work (to some extent) without an Internet connection, using cached data. Whereas websites can only work whilst an Internet connection is present. However, Service Workers have allowed for web Apps to compete with mobile Apps, providing a solution to accessing certain web pages when offline.
- No Dependence on App Distribution Services
App Distribution Services like the App Store, Google Play or Microsoft Store have high requirements for what kinds of Apps can feature. Designing a PWA avoids meeting any complicated procedures that may be unnecessarily time and effort consuming.
At first glance, this appears to be a disadvantage. However, upon closer inspection, a progressive web App provides great user experience and is great for SEO. That’s certainly worth considering! As progressive web Apps are websites, they are discoverable in search engines. Plus, their safety, fast loading time and relevant and unique content put them ahead of native Apps.
- Push Notifications
Progressive web Apps seek to improve engagement with your users using push notifications (just like the ones you get on your iOS or Android phone). For progressive web Apps, this is achieved using two different technologies in combination: Push and Notifications.
Push notifications are very short messages (a bit like text messages) that appear on your progressive web App users’ device when sent from your server. Users must permit your progressive web App to display the Push Notifications before they see them, so they are not a guaranteed method of communication. Use push notifications in your progressive web App design to encourage engagement with your App, and remind users to use your App more frequently.
- Automatic Updates
Progressive web applications automatically update when the user visits them, making it unnecessary to download and install any batch changes. So, without bothering the user with a permission request for updates, you can reserve any push notifications for engaging and re-engaging users with your App.
Progressive web applications must be hosted over HTTPS to ensure the secure delivery of data. Therefore, content and interactions are as safe as they can be with as on a secure website.
- Low maintenance
A lot of companies ignore the maintenance cost of an application. Whereas, before building any application you should always consider both the development and maintenance cost of the application.
In general, the maintenance of an app includes the following:
App Hosting charges
Resolving bugs and releasing new updates
The annual cost of any third-party plugins or so
Tracking performance and marketing
For any type of application (mobile or web), the fee for maintenance will be approximately 20% of the development cost. Because the cost of building progressive web apps is less than native apps, so will be the maintenance cost.
How do PWA’s work?
PWAs use a quirky architecture consisting of four pillars, which work in tandem to provide the native app-like user experience. These four are:
Service Worker: When you visit a PWA powered website for the first time, the Service Worker shifts gears, downloading all the content in the background. With the content already cached on the device, the site loads much faster. Service Workers also enable websites to send you push notifications.
Web Manifest: The web app manifest gives you information about the application(name, author, icon, and description) in a JSON text file. The web manifest makes the installation of web applications to the home screen possible, meaning faster access and a better UX.
HTTPS: One of the prerequisites of a Service Worker is that they make websites available over Https, meaning the connection is secure.
Icon: The display end of the PWA that the user will be able to see once he installs the application.
Limitations of Progressive Web Apps
The idea of PWAs sounds amazing. So, why isn’t every mobile app a PWA then? Here are some of the PWA’s limitations.
PWA is not native. Some app developers and users just love native. Native user interfaces are often changed when a new operating system is launched. Most of the native functionality is backward compatible.
PWA needs and runs in a browser. It is still a Web application and you need to be a Web developer to write PWAs.
Progressive web apps restrict the developers from accessing the hardware resources required to run the application. These hardware resources are platform-specific APIs and are required in a rare case.So, if your application requires access to any of this hardware, then you must stick to native or cross-platform frameworks.
When to choose building a PWA
Not sure whether to opt for a progressive web app or not? Lets see some of the reasons for switching to progressive web apps.
- Targeting a Developing Country
There are still a lot of countries around the globe that still don’t have access to 3G or 4G networks. So, if your app is heavy most of the users won’t be able to access it. In this case, using a progressive web app is definitely an advantage.
- Target Users are Coming from Mobile Devices
Let’s assume that your business already has a web application and most of the users are coming from a mobile device. In this case, using the push notification, offline functionality and native app-like features make the life of your users easy.
- High User Engagement and Conversion
A lot of companies like Flipkart, Uber, Twitter, Pinterest, etc, have seen a massive increase in the number of users and engagement with a progressive web app. So, if your native app isn’t performing well, you should consider migrating to a progressive app.
Do you relate to any of the above reasons? If yes, then you must consider building a progressive web app for your business.
PWA success stories
A lot of companies have switched over to PWA to enhance user engagement, including:
Twitter: Twitter launched Twitter Lite, a PWA in 2017, which helped them connect with mobile users more deeply while consuming fewer data. The PWA relies on cached data and optimized images, and the Twitter lite PWA is just 600KB, compared to the 23.5 MB size of the native app available on the Play store.
Tinder: The now-infamous dating app also launched their PWA in 2017, and found that there was a higher user interaction with the PWA over the native app, with users spending more time messaging on the web application compared to the native app, along with increased session lengths and purchases in par with the native Tinder app.
Trivago: The German-based hotel search engine, one of the largest in the business, wanted to be at the forefront when it came to their mobile website and implemented a PWA in a phased manner to make use of the speed and use of lesser resources. Today, Trivago’s PWA powered website is available in 33 languages, across 55 countries, and the company has seen. User Engagement increased by more than 150%
Uber: Uber uses PWA technology for ride-share booking for low-speed, 2G networks. This PWA allows users to access Uber’s services on low-end devices that are not compatible with their native app.
Starbucks: Starbucks built a PWA for their web ordering system to provide offline ordering that is similar to their native app. Starbucks’ PWA allows you to browse the menu and customize an order without internet.
Spotify: Spotify is powered by PWA-technology to overcome the limitations of working with Apple. Spotify’s PWA app utilized the adaptive UI to changes the background as you progress through the app.
The need for progressive web apps is growing each day. This article touched on the basics of PWA and why a business should look into adding PWA to its product strategy. Not only is PWA a need today, with its offline abilities, local caching, and push notifications offerings, but it also builds one code base to target both desktop and mobile devices, making it more attractive to any business that is not dependent on native mobile apps and wants to save money and resources.
Need help with a PWA?
If you want to build a progressive web app and need help, advice, or developers, feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or on our LinkedIn page or visit our company website, www.quantiantech.com