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Posted on Aug 19, 2019
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Progressive Web App (PWA) – Why the newbie in the world of cross platform technologies is making waves?

In simple words, a Progressive Web App (PWA) is a type of mobile app built using common web technologies such as - HTML, CSS and JavaScript but enabling native mobile app like user experiences – such as working offline, push notifications, direct access to device hardware – very similar to native applications on mobile devices. These features of PWA are supported by the modern browsers like Microsoft Edge, Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox and Apple Safari and it is expected that more browsers may support the features needed in the future.

PWA is basically a web page or website or a web application, which does not require the developers or users to install it via digital distribution systems like Apple App Store or Google Play.

Advantages of PWAs include - faster load times, smaller application sizes, and higher audience engagement. PWAs are designed to work on any browser that is compliant with web standards. As a result, developers can build cross-platform apps more easily than they would with native apps.

PWA is a term coined by designer Frances Berriman and Google Chrome engineer Alex Russell in 2015 to describe apps taking advantage of new features supported by modern browsers, that let users upgrade web apps to progressive web applications in their native operating system (OS). Since then, PWAs are adopted throughout the industry and supported on the two most commonly-used mobile OS - Android and iOS. Of course, these apps need to meet certain requirements and are deployed to servers, accessible through URLs, and indexed by search engines.

So, any website can be a PWA provided –

  • it runs under HTTPS - Originate from a secure origin.
  • it has a Web App Manifest - With at least the four key properties: name, short_name, start_url, and display (with a value of standalone or full screen)
  • it has a Service Worker – Which means it should load while offline.

According to Google Developers, the characteristics of a PWA are:

  • Progressive — It works for every user irrespective of browser used, using progressive enhancement principles.
  • Responsive — It fits to any desktop, mobile, tablet irrespective of size of the screen.
  • Connectivity independent — It works for offline uses, or on low quality networks.
  • App-like — It provides an app to the user experience with app-style interactions and navigation.
  • Fresh — Service worker update process always keeps it up-to-date.
  • Safe — It is served via HTTPS to prevent snooping and ensure content hasn't been tampered.
  • Discoverable — Identifiable as an “application” due to manifest standards and service worker registration, and discoverable by search engines.
  • Re-engageable — It allows to use push notifications to maintain engagement with the user.
  • Installable — The apps can be installed without digital distribution systems such as App Store or Google play.
  • Linkable — The user can share it via a URL and does not require complex installation.
The PWA approach can help the businesses and the developers as they will no longer need to develop multiple apps across multiple mobile platforms resulting in huge savings in app development time and effort.

Although, PWAs offer several advantages over traditional apps, it is still a bit early to conclude that traditional native apps will be out of the game soon. PWAs have limitations when it comes to offering integration with a smartphone or tablet’s hardware features such as NFC and Bluetooth functionality as well as the device’s sensor package (accelerometer, fingerprint sensor, etc.)

Software development team at Aress Software has been working on some internal projects to develop Progressive Web Apps and has realized its advantages. So, if you want to know more about PWAs or have any PWA development requirements, please feel free to contact us at info@aress.com and visit www.aress.com to know more about our software development capabilities.

Category: Web Development and Software Testing

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