Progressive Web Apps: What exactly is it

Abhishek Kanodia
Nov 29 · 2 min read

PWAs is one of the most amazing things that has happened to web development in the last 3–4 years. A PWA is a website which has all the features of a native (android) app

If we try to understand a native app then it has the following features (or say advantages). They are:

1. Installable (i.e., a dedicated icon/ inventory on users phone)

2. Engageable (through push notifications)

3. Starts with a splash screen (for branding purpose)

4. Works offline (i.e., they can use local storage to cache data)

5. Can have local DB to store data or have backend logic

Now imagine a website that gives you all the above functionalities and mimics a native app.

Additionally, if you install them, then it will only occupy kilobytes of space from your phone, unlike a native app. Additionally, since it is only a website you get all the goodness of the web like cross-platform support, responsiveness, and ease of build.

Thus, a website with most of the features of a native app is what you can call a Progressive Web App.

“Google engineers call it as a website that took all the right vitamins”

Also it very easy to convert a normal website into a PWA by just putting up a few lines of Javascript here and there in your codebase.

Flipkart, India’s premier e-commerce company was one of the first ones in the world to build a robust PWA. Nowadays you will see almost every tech company is using a PWA. You can know if a website is PWA if you see an Add To Home Screen option when it’s opened in Chrome Android.

Read more about how to build a PWA here: https://developers.google.com/web/progressive-web-apps/

Recent developments: PWAs were initially only for mobile. Now they have been introduced for desktop as well

My source of knowledge is my extensive research and actually building a PWA in the year 2016 for my venture Rofr (an in-store engagement/re-engagement platform for retail stores)

You can check out Rofr PWA that we built by going here https://rofr-new-test.firebaseapp.com/ (Development on this had stopped in August 2016)

Check out the links below for some more PWAs:

https://pwa.rocks/

https://www.flipkart.com/

https://housing.com

https://www.commonfloor.com/

Let me know for any questions and I will be more than happy to address them.

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