Progressive Web Apps (PWA): Why Are They Called The Future of Web Development

Published On: 22-08-2022 06:02

PWAs are web apps developed using several specific technologies and APIs to allow them to take advantage of both web and native app features.

Wait a minute! Native app, what do we mean by this?

Native apps are software applications created in a particular programming language for a particular device platform, which can be IOS or Android.

A few great examples of the best organizations that have their products as PWAs are Twitter, Pinterest, Uber, TikTok, Spotify, etc.

This blog aims to give an introduction to Progressive Web Apps (PWAs), discussing what they are and the benefits they give over normal web applications.

What is a Progressive Web Application

Progressive Web Applications (PWAs) don't depend on a single API, but rather use various technologies to give users the best web experience possible and are on par with native apps.

For instance, web applications are more discoverable when compared to native applications; it is much easier and faster to go to a website than to install an app, and you may share web applications by sending a link as well.

On the other hand, you can install a native app so that it works offline, offers push notifications, etc. And users love tapping their icons to easily access their favorite apps, rather than navigating to them using a browser.

PWAs offer all these and more without losing any of the existing features. And with this advancement, mobile app developers are now considering PWA’s as an alternative for apps from the play store or similar platforms.

The important ingredient needed for a PWA is service worker support. Fortunately, service workers are now supported on every major browser on desktops and . A well-known technology to create a PWA is Angular. Others include ReactJS, Vue, and Polymer.

Benefits of PWAs

Numerous companies - both private and public - have switched to progressive web applications not only because they are inexpensive to build but also because they provide great engagement. Top web development companies consider PWA as the future cross-platform development.

  • Re-engaging with users through the use of system notifications and push messages, leads to more engaged users and better conversion rates.
  • They’re responsive and work with several various screen sizes.
  • They function just like normal Native Apps.
  • The updates are independent, it is not required to go to the play store for an update.
  • They're built with common web technologies.
  • They're fast and lightweight.
  • They work offline unlike other sites.
  • They are discoverable via search engines.
  • They are easily installable.
  • Low maintenance cost
PWAs also gives the following advantages:
  • A reduction in loading times after the application is installed, due to caching with service workers, along with saving precious bandwidth and time. A PWA has near-instantaneous loading (from the second visit).
  • The ability to update only the content that has changed when an application update is available. On the other hand, with a native application, even a small modification forces users to download the whole app once more.
  • A look and feel that’s more integrated with the native platform - application icons on the home screen or application launcher, apps that automatically run in full-screen mode, and such.

What Makes an App a PWA?

It isn’t that obvious if a web application is a PWA or not at the first glance. An app could be considered a PWA when it meets certain characteristics, or implements a set of given features: works offline, is installable, is easy to synchronize, can send push notifications, etc.

In addition, there are tools to validate the aspects of a Progressive Web App, such as Google Lighthouse. By implementing different technological advantages, you can make an application more progressive, therefore reaching a higher Lighthouse score. Google is a huge champion of PWAs and sees them as the future of the web. Lighthouse can be used to see how quick, accessible, and SEO readiness your progressive web app is.

There are some key principles a fully-capable progressive web application should provide to be identified as a PWA. It should be:

  • Discoverable: the contents can be accessed via search engines.
  • Installable: it can be available on the device's home screen or application launcher.
  • Linkable: you can share it by sending a URL.
  • Network independent: it works offline or with a slow network connection.
  • Progressively enhanced: it is still usable on a basic level on older browsers, but completely functional on the latest ones.
  • Re-engageable: it can send notifications whenever there is new content available.
  • Responsively designed: it is usable on any device with a screen and a browser - smartphones, tablets, laptops, TVs, and such.
  • Secure: the connections between the user, the application, and your server are secured against any third parties trying to gain access to sensitive data.

Above everything else, you have to follow the progressive enhancement rule: utilize technologies that improve the appearance and utility of the application when they are available, but still give the basic functionality of the application when those features are unavailable. Presenting a trusted website with good performance is a consequence of using these enhancements; this, in turn, means building web apps that follow better practices. This way, everyone can use the application, but those with modern browsers will be benefited from PWA features even more.

Also read how to build apps

Final Thoughts

At its heart, a PWA is just a web application. With progressive enhancement, new capabilities can be enabled in modern browsers. Using service workers and a web app manifest, your web application will become reliable and installable. If the new capabilities are not available, users still get the core offering. Providing these features and making use of all the benefits offered by web apps can create a compelling, highly flexible experience for your users and customers. It is well worth trying out a PWA approach, so you can see for yourself if it works for your application.

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