Progressive Web Apps — The Future of Software Applications

Early adopters of technology have always had an upper hand in the marketplace.

Let’s consider the Indian e-commerce scenario. In 2015, there were plenty of big players fighting for the bigger share of the e-commerce boom. Then, Flipkart upped their game by making Myntra an app only experience beating a major rival like Jabong. With further innovation, Flipkart partnered with Google and launched Flipkart Lite, a progressive web app, staying ahead in the game.

Progressive Web Apps are experiences that combine the best of web and apps together. You can visit them for the first time in your browser tab, they don’t require any lengthy installations, load quickly on any network and even have offline capabilities. Basically they behave like any native app but better & can also be accessed from the home screen.

Take a look at some characteristic features of Progressive Web Apps:

  • Responsive — Fit to any desktop, mobile or tablet screens.
  • Independent of connectivity — Enhanced to work offline or with low network.
  • Safe — Served by HTTPS to prevent snooping.
  • Installable — Users can instal these apps without visiting the app store.
  • Fast — Respond quickly to user interaction with silky smooth animations and no janky scrolling.
  • Linkable — Easily share the applications via URLs with no complex installations needed.

Key Insights from the Flipkart Lite App:

63% of Flipkart Lite users came from the 2G network. Flipkart added service workers to streamline the site and now, users can continue to browse categories, reviews, previous searches, and product pages — all while offline.

Flipkart Lite uses 3x less data compared to their mobile pages.
Smooth navigation and scrolling at 60 frames/second.
3x increased time spent on site from 70 seconds to 3.5 minutes.
70% greater conversion rates among those arriving from Flipkart Lite.

The key technology behind progressive web apps is service workers.

A service worker is a client side proxy written in JavaScript, where one can cache the app shell and data for your app, so it’s available even without network. It can perform both background syncs, and push notifications — just like a native app.

Service workers functionality is only available on pages that are accessed via HTTPS. This provides an extra layer of security to your data and prevents content snooping.

Progressive web apps are quite new, but have quickly gained a lot of popularity from the market and the developer community. Many apps have now developed their lite version to attract higher conversion rates. Their speed and quality of user experience is the next level of design and functionality. Newer features and APIs are being developed to be able to offer better functionality and be compatible to more browsers.

PWA have small installation sizes and can work on poor network. With these capabilities, these apps can be used on a wide range of low end devices and newer markets where internet penetration is still limited. Such apps can have a wider reach in the market. Progressive Web Apps definitely have the potential to shift the way the web works.

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