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PROGRESSIVE WEB APPLICATIONS: WHY WOULD YOU NEED ONE?

Marketing Manager
Anastasia Shevchuk

INTRODUCTION

The development of progressive web applications (PWA) is quite common in technology. PWAs have set a high standard for performance, responsiveness, and stability, especially when it comes to mobile devices. Luckily, the list of requirements for building a progressive web application isn't huge.

In this article, we'll take a look at the technologies necessary to build them, the benefits they can offer your business, and many other interesting factors. We'll also answer burning questions, like: What does a progressive web application mean? What are the benefits of PWA implementation?, and how to install a progressive web application (PWA)? We'll also look at the benefits of progressive web apps as well as some successful PWA examples.

Let's get started!

WHAT IS A PROGRESSIVE WEB APPLICATION?

So, what does a "progressive web application" mean?

A progressive web application (PWA), in simple terms, is a website with the functionality of a mobile application. When accessed via a desktop browser, a PWA looks like a regular website, but when it's opened on a mobile device it turns into a hybrid of a website and a mobile application. The term "progressive" is used here because apps like these introduce new features and, from the user experience perspective, are perceived as websites but progressively behave more like multi platform apps. Moreover, PWAs can work in any operating system and browser.

Furthermore, progressive web applications:
  • Have access to the camera
  • Have access to contacts
  • Have access to your geolocation
  • Make push notifications
  • Track your health data
  • Recognize speech

PWA

REQUIRED TECHNOLOGIES FOR BUILDING A PROGRESSIVE WEB APPLICATION

There are several technologies necessary for the creation of a progressive web application. They are mainly based on JavaScript and all have different characteristics.

The main ones are:

1. React

A JavaScript library for building user interfaces and UI components.

2. Polymer

A lightweight library built on top of the web standards-based Web Components APIs, which makes it easier to build your very own custom HTML elements.

3. Ionic

A powerful cross-platform UI toolkit for building native-quality iOS, Android, and Progressive Web Apps with HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.

4. Angular JS

A client side JavaScript framework used to develop a dynamic web application.

5. Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP)

An open source technology that allows you to create web pages which load quickly in mobile browsers.


HAVE AN IDEA FOR A PWA PROJECT IN MIND?

4 REQUIREMENTS FOR AN APP TO BECOME A PWA



The JSON file provides meta information about the application. It contains information about the app icon that the user usually sees after installation, the background color, and the full and short names of the app for display.
Web app manifest


A Service Worker, in simple terms, is a file located between the browser and the service. This component of PWA processes requests and sends responses on behalf of both the browser and the service. It can also cache the information in the background. It also enables the implementation of push notifications.
Service Workers


The application displays an icon and an "Add to Home Screen" button, which allows you to install a PWA on the desktop of the user's device. This tool helps generate icons in various formats, which is very convenient.
App Icon


To be a PWA, a web application must run over a secure network. With services like Cloudflare and LetsEncrypt, it's very easy to get an SSL certificate. A secure website is not only a good practice, but also a guarantee that your web application will be considered reliable.


HTTPs

1. Web app manifest file: manifest.json.

2. Service Workers

3. App Icon

4. HTTPs

WHY CHOOSE A PROGRESSIVE WEB APPLICATION FOR YOUR BUSINESS?

Application-like view

Nowadays, users tend to prefer mobile apps instead of websites because they are so convenient. Progressive web applications provide a great user experience by combining the look of a mobile app with the efficiency of a website. The design of a PWA is similar to that of a native application; they are fast, responsive, and can support database interactions and data automation.

Smooth installation

To install a PWA, users can download the app directly onto their device from a website without visiting GooglePlay or the AppStore. A PWA has its own icon on phones just like a mobile app.

To create a progressive web application on your screen, you just need to take the following steps:

- Open the desirable platform/website
- Push the button "add to the homescreen"
- Use the application

Platform independence

Unlike apps that depend on operating systems, progressive web applications can work everywhere. A single application can satisfy the needs of many users and provide the same user experience on various devices. Moreover, they are adaptable to different formats and screen sizes: desktop, mobile, tablet, etc.

Despite all the benefits of progressive web apps, there are several limitations:

1. Limited Functionality on the iOS platform. Unlike on Android platforms, PWAs don't yet work with Face ID and Touch ID, Siri, ARKit, In-App payments, or Apple's other primary features.

2. Drains battery power. PWAs are written in high-level web code, which explains why they consume more battery than native apps. This means that users who notice a drain on their battery power are less likely to use this kind of app if they need to prolong their battery life.
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SUCCESSFUL PWA EXAMPLES

Progressive web applications are becoming a strong competitor to native apps as users don't want to use storage space on app installation. Some of the most powerful examples of PWAs include music, social, and e-commerce platforms.

Let's take a look at some of the main contenders:

1. Twitter Lite.

The application is much smaller than the heavyweight Android app. It offers an "Add to Homescreen" prompt, web push notifications, and temporary offline browsing.

2. Spotify.

The goal for this PWA launch was to register new users for the free version who will update to premium after experiencing Spotify's incredible product experience. The lightning-fast application has many customization features, from easy-to-craft playlists and changeable background colors to great pitches and selections based on the user's tastes. This PWA's capabilities are already quite impressive. The only weakness is that the offline version doesn't function perfectly yet, but after some time this issue will be solved.

3. Starbucks.

Starbucks launched its progressive web application to provide a fast, responsive performance to its customers. They built an app with images, smooth animations, and offline access. Customers can look at the menu and nutrition information and customize their orders with no Internet connection.
PWA examples

SUMMARY

To sum up, progressive web applications are suited for many different businesses and have already managed to establish a new way of building websites. The advantages have already outweighed the disadvantages, and soon, PWAs are expected to replace desktop, mobile sites, and native mobile apps. For now it is only a prediction, but what we can say for sure is that the development of technologies never stays still for long and that innovation will always be around us. Will you be left behind or ahead of the curve?
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