Using native mobile apps comes with some difficulties: storage space, frequent updates, high data consumption, and so on. Perhaps this is why the development community pushed towards providing a robust alternative that could function both as a website and an app. Thankfully, the push wasn’t for a long time.
There are now apps that provide mobile users with a top-level and seamless web experience. The development of Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) has completely changed the game of web experience on mobile devices, taking it to a new level. PWAs provide solutions to the difficulties in native mobile apps and are an improvement on the existing format of web apps.
What are Progressive Web Apps?
Progressive Web Applications are mobile apps offered to users through the web. In other words, they are web applications that load in a web browser just like websites or web pages. PWAs are based on standard, cross-browser web technologies. They use modern web capabilities to deliver an app-like user experience.
Essentially, these types of apps serve as a bridge between the web and mobile, providing mobile device users with an immersive experience.
PWAs are web apps developed to have the features and advantages of both web and native apps, without losing any functionality that allows for a great user experience. Another way to describe these apps is as websites developed to work like installed native apps and at the same time function like regular websites on other browsers.
What’s more, PWAs allow developers to use a single codebase shared across their website, mobile app, and desktop app.
They run in browsers like websites but have app-like functionalities. Some of the app-like experiences PWAs provide include:
- Ability to work when the device is offline.
- Capacity to be installed on the operating system
- Support for periodic updates and push notifications
- Ability to access hardware features
Characteristics that define PWAs
On the face of it, it’s usually not always obvious if a web app is a PWA or not. For an app to meet the “progressive’’ criteria, it has to have certain characteristics and features.
A PWA should have the following key principles and features:
Progressive: The app should be built with progressive enhancement principles and must work on modern web browsers and any device.
App-like: A PWA must be built on the app shell model that provides the navigation and interactions obtainable in a true app.
Connectivity-independent: It should function in low-network and offline environments.
Linkable: The app must not require complex installation and should be linkable through a URL.
Discoverable: It must be discoverable in web search results
Installable: It must not have a difficult installation process and should be installable on the device’s home screen.
Safe: It should be served through an HTTPS endpoint and other user safeguards, to prevent attacks and ensure high security.
Always up-to-date: It must have a service worker update process that keeps it fresh without the need for updates.
Re-engageable: It should make re-engagement easy for users and must be able to receive push notifications even when it is not active.
Responsive: It must work on all devices: laptops, desktops, tablets, and mobile phones. It should adapt to the user’s screen orientation and input method.