Feb 23, 2017 What’s A Progressive Web App and Why Should I Care?
PWAs—Progressive Web Apps—are catching attention. In the wake of The Washington Post, Alibaba, and the Weather Channel seeing significant increases in engagement, conversions, and performance through this technology. Over the past few months many firms have been asking us about PWAs and what they are all about. Here are some answers.
The Cost-Effectiveness of the Web, the Sleek Experience of an App
Mobile websites can be frustrating, and users have shown they will turn away when a site takes more than a few seconds to load. Apps are great, but you have to deal with friction from an app store, and it can be costly and time-consuming to deliver the great mobile experiences users want across a wide variety of devices.
So, What Is a PWA, Anyway?
Introduced by Google to developers in 2015, a Progressive Web App (PWA) is a Web application that runs like a native app. They combine many of the advantages of the Web—security, standards, accessibility—with the behavior of native apps. As such, they offer the potential to greatly reduce development, deployment and maintenance overhead, while at the same time delivering experiences that are comparable to native apps.
Here, “progressive” means that the app’s abilities extend based on the capabilities of the Web browser being used to view the app. Your app can offer a baseline experience and then enhance the experience if the browser supports it.
“In this way, PWAs progress, adapting based upon what a browser can do with them,” says Justin Cameron, a WebINTENSIVE project manager.
The features this progression unlocks may be formerly native-only capabilities, like registering to send notifications to the user via the mobile OS notifications system, and can offer those features as options to the user if available on the user’s system. Another significant advantage: the ability to run PWAs while offline.
Apple: Not So Progressive. Yet.
Presently, Apple does not fully support Progressive Web Apps. For example, working offline is not supported by Safari, which curtails when and where a PWA can be used, and can impede notifications. In the meanwhile, you can still reap some benefits by taking PWA principles into account. For instance, users often experience performance increases in Safari when viewing and interacting with pages coded as PWAs.
There is debate in the industry as to if and when Apple may add PWA support. One sign of possible change to come: there is a plan to add the technology that enables an offline mode to WebKit, the engine that all browsers on iOS must use. This would be a big step towards having meaningful PWA support on iOS.
Want to Discern Whether PWAs Should Be Part of Your Mobile/Web Strategy?
To learn more about PWAs—and whether they are right for your firm—just call Ned Boyajian at 212-447-1100.