A 2017 Wishlist for Progressive Web Apps and Mobile Web

2016 has been a great year for mobile web in general with several advances in APIs, capabilities for an immersive experience and progressive features. We saw heightened interest and activity in the web community and deeper adoption by businesses around the world eager to explore the world of installable, friction-less and delightful mobile web. It’s been exactly 1 year since we launched Flipkart‘s PWA and it’s been great to watch mobile web evolve throughout 2016!

As we welcome 2017, here is a wishlist for just some of things that I would love to see materialize this year in order to further blur the native-web boundaries and pushing the modern web further towards first class citizenship.

  1. Automatic grant of permissions for Push notification when added to home screen. Repeat users are more engaged than first timers and Push Notification is a powerful tool to bring back users (if done thoughtfully and contextually of course!). This would also help reduce the additional effort of heavy experimentation required to optimize permission seeking experiences.
  2. Events to instrument uninstalls: Industry prioritizes efforts based on what provides the most bang for the resources spent. Not able to quantify a mobile site’s install base makes this discussion harder. Ability to instrument uninstalls will give us the true picture of the install base.
  3. Deduping between native and web app from the same publisher: Push notifications is one of the most exciting developments to hit the web world in recent times unlocking a world of engagement strategies. But, it is also true that there is a high chance that many of these progressive companies who have already or are soon going to experiment with PNs would also have native apps. This brings us to the need of de-duplication of PNs when both the native app and mobile site have push permissions. The wish here is to have this knowledge of this duality available so that companies can make the right choices based on context, PN type and users.
  4. Deeplinking into the installed web app: The ‘Open’ part of open web makes sure that there are several matured channels of incoming traffic in addition to search engines (SEM, Affiliates, Social, Shared Links, SMS etc.). These incoming links should be able to deeplink directly into an installed web app for the best experience and respect the user’s choice to install the site to her home screen. Of course, there should also be flexibility to choose between deeplinking into the native app or the installed web app based on what works for different businesses and products in different contexts.
  5. Some equivalent of Device ID: Knowledge of device ID in native apps allows accuracy and flexibility which I hope comes to the web in some form in 2017. One important benefit of device ID is improving the accuracy of data which is currently predominantly cookie based. Understanding the error and correcting data sets with it allows us to get a more accurate view of our metrics, not to mention the benefits in personalisation.
  6. More top browsers including progressive features: Excited with the hope to see other top browsers in emerging markets such as India, Thailand and China include progressive features such as Addition to Home screen, Service Workers and Push Notifications so that better and more consistent experiences can be provided to users across browsers. Realizing the improvement in metrics that will be undeniably observed on implementing these will make 2017 an even better year!
  7. Discoverability on the store as well on the user’s phone: People are conditioned to finding experiences in certain ways, such as in play store for searching in the universe of apps and using mobile OS search functionality to search within one’s phone. Hope to see the presence of installable web apps in these flows so that we meet the users where they already are.

[Update 1]: Some of the wishes have started coming true! Here’s the latest on an enhanced deeplinkable and discoverable ‘Add to homescreen’ experience by Chrome: https://blog.chromium.org/2017/02/integrating-progressive-web-apps-deeply.html

Here’s to a stronger, faster, better web in 2017! Let’s begin…

Share some of your own wishes below 👇🏼 or tweet me at @karanperi

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