What are PWAs?
Progressive Web Apps are experiences that combine the best of the web and the best of apps. PWAs take advantage of the latest web standards and APIs to provide reliable, fast, and engaging experience that people expect from modern apps. Because they’re web based, they inherently deliver all the best parts of the web, including an extremely wide reach, instant access, instant updates, and easy share ability.
Compared to traditional mobile web apps, PWAs look and feel much more like a native app — in fact, they’re often indistinguishable from their native counterparts. They include offline storage and access to native features like push notifications, geolocation, and the camera — all delivered instantly through the web browser. Unlike traditional native apps, though, users don’t need to be routed through the app store. PWAs are also usually much smaller in size than native apps, so they load faster, work better over low-bandwidth networks, and take up less space on a user’s device.
Why Progressive Web Apps Matter?
Building a high-quality Progressive Web App has incredible benefits, making it easy to delight your users, grow engagement and increase conversions. The world of applications is highly competitive and increasingly crowded. In just the last few years, the number of app store apps more than doubled, to more than 2 million. The impact of this is twofold: app fatigue for users, and immense pressure for application developers and enterprise architects to make sure their apps stand out from the crowd and provide the absolute best user experience. An app that takes more than a few seconds to load, or more than a few clicks to find and download from an app store can cost you that user.
On the positive side, an app that delivers great content seamlessly and quickly, no matter what device a user has, can set your company apart. This is why Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) are quickly becoming the standard way to ship these great user experiences to the web. In fact, Gartner predicts that by 2020, 50% of general-purpose, consumer-facing mobile apps will be PWAs.
But what are PWAs, exactly, and how do you make them work for you?
How PWAs Work?
PWAs utilize new, modern web APIs, most crucially Service Workers and a Web App Manifest. While these two APIs are relatively new, they already have full support in Chrome (and Chrome-based browsers such as Samsung Internet) and Firefox, and support in Safari and Edge. These APIs make it possible to ship a full featured app experience that hasn’t been possible on the web up to now.
Service Workers are the biggest player, helping your PWA reach those reliable, fast, and engaging benchmarks. Service Workers allow your PWA to work offline — not traditionally possible on the web — load reliably no matter the state of the user’s network connection, and enable features like push notifications and background data syncing.
Web App Manifests
Web App Manifests allow your PWA to deliver the look and feel people expect. They let you specify an icon, app name, and splash screen color, and enable users to install your PWA to their device and have it appear right alongside their native apps.
How to Get Started
There are a lot of helpful resources to help you build a PWA. Google offers an excellent code lab that you can check it out for details.