Building the Pinterest app for Windows 10

Pinterest Engineering
May 30 · 3 min read

By Will Yau | Growth Engineering

Solving a user problem

As we focus on developing ways to help Pinners find inspiration across all interests, locations and platforms, we knew we had to improve the experience for Windows. Accessing Pinterest from desktop requires using a browser, often times with numerous tabs opened, which can make for a burdensome experience. To create a more seamless experience, today we’re officially introducing the Windows app for Pinterest on Windows 10. With Pinterest readily accessible from the start menu & taskbar and deeper integration with Windows, Pinners can now browse with a more enhanced and engaging experience.

Leveraging the PWA

The Windows app is built on top of the Progressive Web App (PWA). Since Pinners on their desktop have been defaulting to pinterest.com, they are already familiar with the product experience. The web is also fully featured, constantly updated and we have many wonderful people working on the site to make it better every day. Since it’s a PWA, it’s reliable, fast and engaging [1], making efficient use of service workers, cache, notification and more. It also has a proper app manifest and leverage sharing and other features.

Windows Store as a distribution channel

Our desktop web Pinner distribution is similar to the rest of the web, with the majority on Windows devices running Windows 10, which is nearly half of the Windows user base. As Microsoft has recently published, there are more than 800 million Windows 10 devices worldwide. With these Pinners having access to the Microsoft Store, this is a great opportunity for Pinterest to be more available to them.

In addition to it being a great distribution channel, the Microsoft Store is also flexible and treats packaged PWA as a first class citizen with access to Windows 10 feature APIs. This allows us to leverage all the great work our engineering team has already done. PWA apps are naturally small in app sizes, allowing for a much shorter install time while staying continuously updated so the app never becomes stale or outdated. The availability of service worker allows us to offer a true offline experience like most native apps.

However, with new opportunities come new challenges. Those challenges include download and app crashes, both of which are inevitable but also issues we’ve been working together with Microsoft to minimize as much as possible. Additionally, the acquisition funnel is a cumbersome process (requiring two clicks to install) leading to a higher drop off in comparison to the normal web acquisition funnel.

New value and great experience

Overall, we’re pleased with the early results. Early feedback from Pinners has been supportive as they’ve found value finding inspiration outside of the browser. We’ve continued to make improvements by adding Windows features such as live tiles, jumplist and rich notifications. And we’ll make more integrations available with other apps (ie. sharing, etc.). Stay tuned!

Pinterest Engineering

Written by

Inventive engineers building the first visual discovery engine, 175 billion ideas and counting. https://careers.pinterest.com/