Progressive Web Apps
Future of Mobile Web Browsing
We have heard about the web apps but what is Progressive web app(PWA)? PWA can be simply define as a web app that feels like a native mobile app. It feels like but it is not a mobile app. PWA aims to provide native like experience to users of all platforms and devices, also it allows users to skip app store browsing and installation. It is just another tab in your browser which has quick access right from the home screen and easy interaction with app. Best feature of PWA is that it can work without an internet connection.
Features of a PWA
- Responsive and browser compatibility
- Connectivity independent
- Safe and Secure
- Discoverability and easy installation
Technical Components of PWAs
- The web app manifest
The app manifest-a simple JSON file, helps the progressive web app appear like a native app interface. Manifest help developer controlling the way app is displayed to the user.
When user visits a website several times, he is suggested to save it as a shortcut to the home screen of the browser or smartphone. The PWA is saved immediately, there is no need to browse the app store or install the web app.
- Service worker
A service worker supports the main features of progressive web apps like the offline work mode, background syncs and push notification for native apps. The service worker is a java script file running separately from web pages. The lifetime for service worker is short as it runs only to process a specific event.
Offline work mode: Service worker is responsible for the offline functionality of the PWA through timely content caching. The dynamic content is refreshed every time when the connection is back.
For example, a messenger user won’t see the difference between the offline and online modes when interfacing with app. Message history is still available when in offline mode. However, messaging requires internet connection.
Push notifications: Push notification is an efficient tool for user re-engagement through the content updates from the website they like. The service workers and push API allow the PWA to send messages in the notification bar.
Background synchronization: The service worker is also in charge of this background sync feature. It delays actions until connectivity is back. For example, the message sent right before the connection lost will be marked as sent and then will be delivered as soon as internet service is restored. So, servers can send repeat updates to the app allowing it to update itself when the connection is restored.
- HTTPs Security
PWAs works with service workers and native APIs and deals with sensitive information. Progressive web apps are secured through HTTPs, so unauthorized users can’t access the contents.
Example of PWA: Twitter Lite
In 2017, Twitter made a new product, service, or system available for first time that is Progressive Web App “Twitter Lite” as the default mobile web experience for all users worldwide.
With over 80% of users on mobile, Twitter wanted to improve its mobile web experience by making it faster and more engaging, especially because many of its users were located in areas with slow-moving network conditions. Twitter Lite loads pages immediately and lowers data use by rearranging data to improve efficiency and depening on cached data. It also reengages users with push notifications and allows users to add the PWA to their homescreens.
No doubt progressive web apps will be the future of web application due to its exciting features which is combination of website and mobile native application. Progressive web applications are fast, they work without an internet connection or low internet connection and they are great in re-engaging users. Time will decide whether PWAs will take over native mobile app or not but trends show that the community is accepting this PWAs warm heartedly. It could be a wise decision to accept the changes at right time for maximum benefits.