Progressive Web Apps

A Progressive Web App — PWA for short — is the modern way to create a mobile app. On a mobile device, PWA’s look and function like a regular, "native" app, but they have a number of advantages.

 

Fast to build, easy to download

Progressive Web Apps are downloaded from the web, instead of being installed from an app store.

So the customer experience is simple: your users just see a Save button on their mobile device, and they immediately can add your app to their screen as an icon.

There's no need to go through the administration of submitting it to the Apple or Android App Stores.

Because PWAs are downloaded on-the-fly, you can be sure that all users have the most up to date version.

Web app blog post desktop mobile view


User experience

The latest mobile browsers have better-than-ever handling for apps. Much of a the app's interactivity is already built into the browser, making them compact fast to download.

PWAs load like regular web pages, but behave as if they were native applications. The usual browser controls, like the address bar and forward/back navigation, are hidden, giving the impression that the app is a separate thing entirely from their web browser.

When first visited, the user can "pin" a PWA to the desktop or home screen, like any regular app. As they are fully responsive, PWAs are much smaller than native apps, saving storage space and data transfer. 

 

PWAs can work offline

It's common for a mobile device to be offline; whether the user is out of wifi range, travelling abroad, or the mobile network coverage is poor. Whatever the reason, you probably want the user to still be able to access your app.

But how is that possible?

That's where the progressive part of PWAs comes in. Provided the user has previously visited your site or web application, they are smart enough to download essential content that will later be available when the device is offline.

 

PWAs can update in the background

In technical terms, PWAs can have background tasks carried out by “service workers” — scripts that enable "push" notifications from browser to device, and data being synchronised in the background.

While many PWAs are simple, they are getting more sophisticated. Mobile browsers have built-in databases (you may not have realised that!), and so when combined with the pushing of data out to an app, it's possible to create a highly interactive experience.

On some PWAs, users can interact with the app while offline, even setting data in the local database. The changes are then re-synchronised to the server when the device comes back online.

In this way, PWAs become about as seamless as is currently possible with a mobile app, giving the user the impression that they are online, even if their device has periods of being offline.

 

Does your site need a PWA?

PWAs are faster and more economic to write compared with native apps, and accomplish much more than regular Web Apps.

If you'd like your website to be available as a web app, or if you have an online application that you'd like to deliver via a Progressive Web App, please contact us to discuss it.