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PROGRESSIVE WEB APPLICATIONS: WHY WOULD YOU NEED ONE?

Anastasia Shevchuk
Business Development Manager

INTRODUCTION

One of the tendencies in technology includes the development of progressive web applications (PWA). PWAs have set a high standard for performance, responsiveness, and stability, especially regarding mobile devices. Luckily, the list of PWA requirements isn't huge either.

In this article, we'll consider the meaning of a progressive web application, technologies necessary to build them, benefits they can offer your business and other interesting things.

Let's start!

WHAT IS A PROGRESSIVE WEB APPLICATION?

A progressive web application (PWA), in simple terms, is a website with a functionality of a mobile application. When accessed via a desktop browser, 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 as such apps introduce new features and, from the user experience's point of view, they are perceived as websites but progressively behave more like multiplatform apps. Moreover, PWA 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

WHAT TECHNOLOGIES DO YOU NEED TO BUILD A PROGRESSIVE WEB APPLICATIONS?

There are several technologies for the creation of a progressive web application, mainly based on JavaScript, with different characteristics.

The main are:
JavaScript library for building user interfaces and UI components.

1. React

2. Polymer

3. Ionic

4. Angular JS

5. Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP)

A lightweight library built on top of the web standards-based Web Components APIs, and makes it easier to build your very own custom HTML elements.
A powerful cross-platform UI toolkit for building native-quality iOS, Android, and Progressive Web Apps with HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.
A client side JavaScript framework to develop a dynamic web application.
An open source technology that allows you to create web pages that 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 the information about the app icon that the user usually sees after installation, the background color, the full name and the short name of the app to display.


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


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


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.

1. Web app manifest file: manifest.json.

2. Service Workers

3. App Icon

4. HTTPs

WHY CHOOSE A PROGRESSIVE WEB APPLICATION FOR YOUR BUSINESS?

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

2. Drains battery power. PWAs are written in high-level web code that's why they consume more battery than native apps. So, users who notice a drain in their battery power are more unlikely to use this kind of app if they need to prolong their battery life.

Application-like view

Smooth installation

Platform independence

Nowadays, users tend to use more mobile apps instead of websites due to their convenience. Progressive web applications afford 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 and responsive, can support database interactions and data automation.
To install a PWA, users can download the app directly onto their device from a website without visiting GooglePlay or the AppStore. A PWA gets its own icon on phones just like a mobile app.

To create a progressive web application on your screen, you just need to do the following steps:
- Open the desirable platform/website;
- Push the button "add to the homescreen";
- Use the application.
Unlike apps that depend on operating systems, progressive web applications 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 and other.

Despite all the benefits, there are several limitations:

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PWA EXAMPLES THAT TURNED OUT TO BE A SUCCESS

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

1. Twitter Lite.

2. Spotify.

3. Starbucks.

The application is much smaller than the heavyweight Android app. It offers an "Add to Homescreen" prompt, web push notifications, and temporary offline browsing.
The goal for this PWA launch was to register new users for the free version who will update premium after witnessing 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.
Starbucks launched its progressive web application to provide fast, responsive performance for 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.

SUMMARY

To sum up, progressive web applications are suited for different business cases and they 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. But now it is only a prediction, what we can say exactly is that the development of technologies doesn't stay in one place and innovations will always be around us.
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