What are Progressive Web Apps?


Did you know there's a type of app that works for all operating systems and is easier for users to access? They're called progressive web apps or PWA and they are reliable, fast and engaging. PWAs are the next hot topic in today's world, particularly in terms of Ecommerce mobile innovation.

While PWAs are a relatively new concept to most people, it’s no wonder that companies such as Spotify, Uber and Pinterest are using PWAs instead of native apps (apps found in the App store) to expand their digital footprint. They can provide incredibly attractive and engaging user experiences while also gaining new users. Let’s take a look at Native Apps, PWA and why PWA would be a better choice for your business.

Native Apps

An app store, such as Google Play or Apple's iOS, is where native apps are located and installed. Downloading the app necessitates the user's commitment to complete the task from beginning to end. Before installing an app, users must pass and check several permissions. Building an app and keeping it up to date with the ever-changing standards for screen size, resolution, and visual needs can be very expensive and time-consuming.

In addition to building separate versions for multiple platforms, you will also need to submit them to various App Stores. In order to publish your app, you must meet specific criteria. You may even be required to pay a fee to register for a developer account.

PWAs were first introduced by Alex Russel, a Software Engineer at Google in 2015. He defines PWA as a website that has taken all of the required vitamins to overcome the limitations of online quality, performance, and unavailability due to a lack of internet connection, resulting in a convenient app-like experience on the mobile web. They progress from pages in browser tabs that are served via HTTPS to immersive, top-level applications. PWAs are made to function in every browser on any device. 

PWAs employ service workers to manage offline requests, prefetch and cache resources, and sync data with a remote server, among other things. This means that after you've added your app to the home screen, you'll be able to launch it right away and utilize it offline or in low-bandwidth situations. 

They're sweeping native apps under the rug, transforming them into more accessible and easy digital solutions by combining the best of both worlds (traditional website and mobile application). For example, users spend 40% more time on Pinterest's PWA than on their native app with a 44 % increase in core interaction.

Why using PWA might be just what you need

Users dislike being forced to go through the process of seeking, downloading, and installing apps. Especially when they only need to make a brief purchase or go through a catalogue, for example. As a result, they would rather utilize a website or a Progressive Web App (PWA). With a single codebase, web apps can reach anybody, everywhere, and on any device. 

Here are the key benefits of using PWA:

A single app that can be used on any device and browser

Simply put, the apps are cross-platform, with the same user interface and experience across all devices and screen sizes. They may be used to display full-screen content, alter screen orientation, launch with a custom splash screen, access location data, and much more. 

Progressive Web Apps allow you to provide user experiences that are similar to native apps without the need for multiple development teams or dealing with maintenance delays and updates. Google, Samsung and Microsoft are all strong supporters of PWA technology. PWA is compatible with all Android devices, and Microsoft is developing several of its next-generation apps as PWAs, including Outlook and Teams.

Users can access your app online rather than simply in the app store since PWAs are made up of app-like web pages. This allows you to make use of SEO to drive traffic to your app and reach out to profitable users at minimal cost. As a bonus, the app is linkable, making it possible for users to share the app via a URL instantly. 

PWAs work offline with Service Workers

As mentioned above, a service worker is a JavaScript file that acts as a bridge between your app and the network. During the running time of a PWA, service workers save the webpage data. When a user launches the app offline, it uses the cached data to keep functioning. The second advantage is that the loading time is reduced even when the user is connected to the internet because loading local files are considerably faster than downloading them. Additionally, whether the app is online or offline, service workers can send push notifications to the user, making re-engagement possible.

Progressive Web Apps are by default secure. To work, the technologies that underpin PWA require apps to be delivered over HTTPS. Having a safe site is not only a recommended practice, but it also positions your online application as a trustworthy one, which is important if users need to make secure transactions. Unlike native apps, they are unable to acquire a mobile user’s contact information or hardware detectors, making it better and safer for users. 

Minimal Installation

PWA is easily installed with a shortcut on the home screen using browser-provided prompts, without journeying to an app store. It operates in a separate window rather than a browser tab. It is simple to find them on a device, making them feel like they are a part of the device on which they are installed.

For basic native apps, the situation appears to be gloomy. It's becoming increasingly difficult to justify the development of complete apps when new competitors emerge that are objectively more simple to use. 

Progressive web apps provide a superior alternative to simple native applications. If you would like to know more, Go4IT Africa will gladly provide you with a consultation.



How Progressive Web Apps Improve Digital Commerce Experience - eCommerce technology

Introduction to progressive web apps - MDN Web Docs

Progressive Web App Handbook - Vaadin.com