Understanding the Progressive Web Application (PWA)
Any IT specialist will agree that the web is a powerful platform used for various business purposes. It is a platform that uses different operating systems and can function across several devices. Since it is a unique platform, it is best for software development. It is easy to search and find a website, share the info across different users, and have the website’s best experience. Anyone can access a web app from any location across other devices with one codebase.
Online businesses or rather companies have their websites to make the operations easy. Some include Native apps to give the user the best experience.
However, native apps give the best experience, but they are costly. When you get an example of a native app at a reasonable price, the Progressive Web App comes in.
In simple terms, a progressive web application is a website that has extra benefits applicable to mobile devices. Among the benefits include offline access, push notifications, and adding a PWA to any device’s home screen, among many others.
Google introduced PWAs in 2015, but they were available for Android devices only. However, iOS got the PWAs in 2018 March
When PWA is on a desktop, they appear as standard websites but appear as a native and hybrid website on a mobile phone.
How Does PWA Work?
A user can immediately open a PWA website; there is a pop-up notification directing the user to install the app on the phone. The user can then decide to add the app on the home screen.
After the installation process is over, you will see the icon on the launcher or the home screen.
Now that you have the PWA on your device, the web page opens in separate windows other than a new tab when you click on the icon.
Progressive Web Apps on Android
The installation process is similar to the one described above. The PWA creates a site cache after installation to improve the loading speed and enable the user to access the site while offline.
PWA is quite reliable on Android devices. The native app can authenticate fingerprints, enable speech recognition, NFC, and payments, among many other services.
Functions of Progressive Web Apps.
Developers usually have an easy time with Progress Web Apps on Android devices. Users can access all the device’s new features at any given time using API functions like Bluetooth API, NFC API, Geolocation API, among others.
Also, if you want to publish PWA to Google Play, you have to use PWABuilder tools.
However, the same experience is different from iOS devices because they lack more support from Apple. A good example is push notification, which doesn’t apply to safari. However, the PWA works well on iOS devices because they lack extra support from the Apple store. Other uses of PWAs include:
- They give a full-screen user experience without including URL’s
- They offer a shortcut to add to the home screen
- Protects user’s privacy with HTTPS servers
- They enable users to work while offline, improve the loading speed, and send push notifications.
- They enable background sync when PWA is opened.
The brands using Progressive Web App technology include Twitter, Uber, Pinterest, Forbes, Google developers, the Financial Times, Starbucks, and The Washington Post.
Advantages of Progressive Web Apps to Users.
The cost of transforming a website into a PWA is cheap and easy when compared to creating a native app. Above all, users enjoy home screen icons, fast speed, push notifications, and offline access.
Note: If you are planning to get an adaptive app, or even if you have one, take chances and extend it with a PWA.
You do not have to wait for App Store or Google store permission to release the app or if you want to update the app. Still, you don’t need to pay for the marketplace’s fee, saving you extra cash.
Ask any developer around; they will tell you that PWAs are the easiest to develop. Since the apps function well on multiple devices, developers save the time required to build other platforms for different devices.
Users get notified of any activity so that they can accept. The notifications are found on Linux, Windows, ChromeOS, and macOS but not safari.
User with Progressive Web Apps has access to the latest versions. They don’t have to wait for developers to release new versions to update their apps.
Every user loves it when a page loads faster so that they can get the information they need. With PWAs, they work with local cache, which sends few requests to the server, hence the excellent performance.
You will agree that most websites don’t show any content when the user s offline. The user musts stay connected to view the details of the website. However, the case is different with PWAs. The services are always available on all devices when offline.
Components of a Progressive Web App
The PWAs do not rely on other tools such as frameworks, among others. The developer can create a PWA after putting some requirements in order. In the case you want to upgrade a website to a PWA, you need to have a service worker and a manifest.json file. But before we continue, maybe you are wondering what a service worker is.
Push notifications — Since workers work on their own from the main browser, their apps are independent. For that reason, service workers can get push notifications from the server the app isn’t running. You can get the messages even when your browser isn’t open. However, desktop users can receive notifications when Firefox and chrome are running.
Offline mode — Since the service worker caches an application interface, it enables automatic loading on the next click while offline. However, payment history and messages can only load when there is an active connection.
For example, when using messenger, you can view the history of the messages. However, there must be an active connection when you want to get new notifications.
Background synchronization — You have experienced this at some point. When sending a text, the service worker confirms whether you are actively connected. If there is an internet connection, your message will be sent. However, if you are offline, the service worker will wait until an internet connection is sent to send the message. Even if you leave the page, the service worker will automatically send the message when there is an internet connection.
Note: As mentioned earlier, service workers operate on a secure HTTP connection.
Now that you know about a service worker let us now define a manifest.
A manifest is a JSON file that controls the activities of progressive web applications.
The manifest helps developers to control the following:
- The launching of a PWA
- Adding an app to the home screen
- How to display the apps in terms of color, icons, fonts, and screen orientation.
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When to develop a PWA other than a native app
- You don’t need the marketplaces
- There is no need for a customized user interface
- When you want the app to run on multiple devices and operating systems
- When the app isn’t complex
- The app doesn’t require native functionalities
- When you want to engage users who have limited time to go live on a budget
From the points above, you will notice that PWA is good for media because of offline access to cached articles. And that is the reason why The Washington Post decided to go the PWAs way.