Progressive Web Apps (PWA): What you need to know

Sahil Gupta
Published on Sep 12, 2019 in Web Developers Resources
Progressive Web Apps (PWA)- What you need to know

There has been a constant buzz about Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) since Google Chrome engineer Alex Russell and designer Frances Berriman came out with the term in 2015. PWAs are considered the next big thing and are gradually becoming a trend amongst users of mobile web.

The internet is full of information that you might find interesting about progressive web apps, but what confuses people more often than not is the fact the there is no single definition of the term, thus making it vague, broad and difficult to understand sometimes.

Amongst the many things written about progressive web apps on the internet, what explains the term in its simplest form is that PWAs are basically websites with all the features that are present in an app. Progressive web apps mix the options of recent internet browsers and mobile experiences to supply the most effective of each. They can appear like a native mobile app or traditional application but are actually regular web pages.

Alex Russell in his conversation with Frances Berriman on Progressive web apps pointed out towards certain attributes of PWAs, that they called “attributes of a new class of applications”. These attributes are as follow:

  • Responsive: to fit any form factor
  • Connectivity independent: Progressively-enhanced with Service Workers to let them work offline
  • App-like-interactions: Adopt a Shell + Content application model to create appy navigations & interactions
  • Fresh: Transparently always up-to-date thanks to the Service Worker update process
  • Safe: Served via TLS (a Service Worker requirement) to prevent snooping
  • Discoverable: Are identifiable as “applications” thanks to W3C Manifests and Service Worker registration scope allowing search engines to find them
  • Re-engageable: Can access the re-engagement UIs of the OS; e.g. Push Notifications
  • Installable: to the home screen through browser-provided prompts, allowing users to “keep” apps they find most useful without the hassle of an app store
  • Linkable: meaning they’re zero-friction, zero-install, and easy to share. The social power of URLs matters.

Another criteria that websites have to qualify to become progressive web apps is based on three conditions as mentioned below:

  • Websites need to be running under HTTPS.
  • They need a Web App Manifest (to provide information about the web application in a JSON text file, without which the web app cannot be downloaded and used).
  • They need a Service Worker (according to developers at Google, A service worker is a script that your browser runs in the background, separate from a web page, opening the door to features that don't need a web page or user interaction).

PWAs are helpful for both users and service providers. For example, there are businesses who do not have native apps can get maximum advantage of PWA by targeting a large number of audiences, mostly mobile users. Apart from that PWAs help a few industries more than others. For instance, the ecommerce industry will benefit majorly by using progressive web apps. With their superfast loading capabilities, they make the best on the go apps for the consumers. Along with this, progressive web apps do not require you to take the long route to make payments like the apps you download from stores. A one click feature makes it easier and hassle free to do transactions directly through Google payment API. The banking sector too gets great advantages from PWAs. The PWAs connects only via HTTPS, thus forming a more secured gateway for transactions.

PWAs come with the same features as present in native apps. You can add progressive web apps to the home screen of your device and enable the push notification feature just as you can in an app. Another interesting feature that makes them very app like is that you can use PWAs even when you have less or no internet access at all. Yes they can work offline too just like any other app on your mobile. Besides, the user who does not want to install native apps due to less storage capacity and RAM can also get benefit from progressive web apps.

Progressive web apps use modern internet capabilities to deliver a reliable, fast and engaging experience for users on their preferred devices and platforms. PWAs load almost instantly, works great in no network areas and are as user friendly and engrossing as any app on your smartphone. They conjointly provides personalization and caching capabilities that guarantee quicker loading and fewer knowledge usage. Programmers will code these apps once and deploy them everyplace.

According to the latest Google survey, progressive web apps are used by more than 11.4 million users as compared to a meagre 4 million users of the native app. The report conjointly predicts that the presence of a progressive web app can step by step eliminate the requirement for a passionate native mobile app in the near future.

Progressive Web Apps (PWA)- What you need to know

PWAs and Native Apps: what’s The Difference?

  1. Platforms: While native apps are built especially for one platform or differently for different platforms, PWAs do not require any platform like iOS or Android. They run in browsers in all devices.
  2. Code Base: For apps to install there is a separate code base for each device based on whether the device runs on Android or iOS platform. There are no such code base for PWAs and they do not need to be installed from Google Play or App Store.
  3. User Experience:User experience of native apps with full hardware access is different from PWAs where user experience is based on modern web standards.
  4. Budget: Native apps are generally expensive because they need written platform specific codes, no such requirements need to be fulfilled in the case of PWAs, therefore making them much cheaper than native apps.
  5. Download: Native apps needs to be downloaded from various app stores whereas progressive web apps are directly downloaded to your home screen from the web.
  6. Storage: Native apps require more space on your devices in comparison to progressive web apps that require very less space.
  7. Data Usage: Native apps consume a lot of data and mostly require an internet connection. Progressive web apps consume less data and can work with poor connection and evenoffline.

What are the benefits of progressive web apps?

  • Increase mobile website reliability: PWAs are very dependable even in conditions where you have access to less or absolutely no internet. They have the ability to work offline thus keeping you engaged. You can look at product catalog, keep adding new items to your cart even when you have no internet access.
  • Enable quick and seamless responses to user interactions: Progressive Apps are seemingly fast and are designed to cater to the needs of their users in no time. They load almost instantly without the further need to reload them unlike the traditional websites. The turbo features of PWAs make them very attractive for the end users.
  • Create an immersive and engaging user experience that feels like an app: PWAscomes loaded with features that you usually love in any native app. They never make you feel any different with the experience, only better. Features like an icon of its own on your homescreen, push notifications, save to cart etc. comes handy in progressive web apps.
  • Increase convenience as users will keep apps they often use on their home screen: The fear of forgetting the website’s name, not keeping a bookmark or not saving it for future use looms on all of us equally. This is where PWAs make a mark, you can always save them on your device just like an app or keep the icons in your ‘favourites’ folder on the home screen of your mobile.
  • Lower the obstacles to use with no need for a complex installation: It is not required from the user to download PWAs from different platforms like Google Play Store, Apple’s App Store or Window’s Phone Apps. This makes the downloading direct (as you are not redirected anywhere) and fast.
  • Easily share PWAs via a URL: Progressive web apps can be linked page to page, which makes them easily shareable via a URL. This broadens their accessibility among a larger audience using the URL.
  • Re-engage users through push notifications: Features like push notifications have turned out be of great use for the users and has benefited the developers equally. Companies can reach their consumers more effectively via push notifications than its counterparts like e-newsletters etc.
  • Engage users on all browsers and devices: Just like other websites PWAs can be accessed on any device that you want via URL. You can access them on all your devices based on your preference to use whichever screen size you want.
  • Be discoverable via search engines: unlike native apps, progressive web apps are just a click away and indexable at various search engines thus maximising their visibility to users who go to internet with specific keywords as per their specific needs and requirements.
  • Easily keep your app up-to-date due to the service worker process: Since PWAs do not require to be downloaded from any app store, they do not even require approvals for updates from anywhere. Thus the users always get an updated progressive app that refreshes every time the app is relaunched on a device.
  • Ensure security as they are served via HTTPS: Web security is one of the key requirement that progressive web apps have to fulfil for their launch as an app. Along with this since PWAs are based on HTTPS, they already come with an extra layer of protection. HTTPS protect user data, their browsing history and transactions related details.
  • Save user’s storage space and data on their mobile devices: PWAs are lightweight and consume lesser data in comparison to native apps. They are also not bulky like apps and do not require much storage on your mobile devices.

What are the challenges of Progressive Web Apps?

  1. iOS Device Compatibility: A major challenge for Progressive web apps is that on iOS platform they are not compatible with device with version less than 11.03.
  2. Battery performance related issues: PWAs tend to drain more battery from your devices than native apps as PWAs are written in high level web code.
  3. Hardware is not fully accessible: With PWAs users unlike native apps cannot fully access the hardware of the device they are using the browser on.
  4. Do not support legacy devices or browsers: Progressive web apps are very recent and therefore old and outdated devices and browsers do not support them well.
  5. Less or no access to certain device features:PWAs do not yet have access to a lot of the features of your mobiles like Bluetooth, Touch ID, Face ID, proximity sensor, advanced camera controls, battery information etc.

Platforms That PWA Supports

  1. Microsoft Edge Progressive Web Apps: The new version of Windows 10 which was released in April 2018, supports PWA. Before that, Microsoft has allowed users to list PWA via Microsoft Edge.
  2. Microsoft Store Progressive Web Apps: All PWA apps can found in Microsoft Store. Developers create PWA enabled apps and list in the store while Microsoft also lists in popular PWA apps using Bing to find.
  3. Chrome Progressive Web Apps: As of now, Google Chrome does not support this for desktop, but it under development process.

    Google has announced it is working on PWA supportive browser which will be released sometime very soon. You can check this anytime in the browser from now onwards.

    Besides, there can be many updates about PWA supports with the various browsers.

  4. Android Progressive Web Apps: It is very much supportive of Android’s Google Chrome.

    Simply, open a PWA-enabled website in your mobile browser and list the app in your mobile right away. Besides, Chrome is working on many possibilities regarding the PWA such as adding PWA to the play store.

    Besides, the tech giant is also considering building a technology names WebAPK which will help to turn the PWA into APK files. That will allows the app to get installed in the device like other native apps.

  5. iOS Progressive Web Apps:Not fully functional, yet the tech giant Apple, considering its significance and popularity among users, has silently added the feature in its latest release iOS 11.3 which was officially released on March 30 this year. However, the feature is in its beta version mode and all features of PWA yet to be added. It will be enabled soon.

Progressive Web Apps Developed by Parangat Technologies:

1. Healthy Bazar:

HealthyBazar.com is a knowledge-based market-place (e-commerce platform), where not only Indian Herbal products (Ayurvedic, Unani, and Natural), Oils, Healthy food items, and daily use items etc. are sold, but knowledge is also shared on healthy living and natural way of healing. The app was developed in PWA, allowing the owners with lesser data use and higher conversion rates.

Progressive Web Apps (PWA)- What you need to know

2. Massage Now:

Progressive Web Apps (PWA)- What you need to know

MassageNow.com is an online Platform for Massage Parlours to manage their all branches/shops, Staff, Bookings, Payments, Invoices, Ratings and Reviews. This also have a massage booking Mobile application for End customers.

Mean Stack is used for the online platform and Therapist PWA mobile app. Customer mobile app for booking is done in Native ios and Android.

Others:

3. AliExpress and Alibaba

Progressive Web Apps (PWA)- What you need to know

AliExpress is the best e-commerce site which has a large number of customers from across every corner of the world. After it added PWA, the strategy resulted in an 82% increase in iOS conversion rate while doubling the page visit.Alibaba increased conversions on the mobile web by 76%, with 14% more monthly active users on iOS and 30% more on Android.

4. Make My Trip

Progressive Web Apps (PWA)- What you need to know

The PWA strategy helped the largest traveling site “Make my trip” 70% reduction in data use while 75% in a tweet sent. There was a huge drop off rate before the company shifted to Progressive web app. After the shift the company witnessed a 3x increase in conversion rates, 38% increase in page load times and 160% increase in user sessions.

5. Twitter

Progressive Web Apps (PWA)- What you need to know

Twitter is one of the biggest beneficiaries after it adopted PWA. It got 250K unique visitors on a daily basis. Twitter Lite that loads in just 3 seconds, witnessed a 65% increase in pages per session, 75% in tweets, and a 20% decrease in bounce rate.

6. Flipkart

Progressive Web Apps (PWA)- What you need to know

In 2015, Flipkart experimented by shutting its mobile website and went for an app only stratey because they failed to deliver a good user experience to the user with poor 2G network. Later on the company invested in a Progressive web app. The result of which was that the top e-commerce site got 70% increase in conversion rate after it included PWA in its marketing strategy. Besides, the website recorded 40% first-time visitors on site. Users now spent 3 times more time on their website using 3 times less data.

7. Forbes

Progressive Web Apps (PWA)- What you need to know

Forbes is one of the popular websites regarding information, news and story. However, after turning its website in PWA-enabled, it recorded 100% increase in engagement while, as per the company claim, it takes only 0.8 seconds (as compared to a 3-12 second previously) time to load the page.

8. Pinterest

Progressive Web Apps (PWA)- What you need to know

After making a shift towards progressive web app, Pinterest has shown striking results in its performance. There is a 40% increase in the time spent by users on the mobile web. There is a 44% increase in user generated ads revenue. A 50% increase in ad click throughs and 60% increase in engagement.

9. OLX

Progressive Web Apps (PWA)- What you need to know

OLX has 90% of its users operating from mobile, thus it became crucial for them to move towards a progressive web app of their own. After which there was a 250% increase in re- engagement of users, 80% decrease in bounce rates, 146% increase in CTR on ads and 23% decrease in time for the page to become interactive.

10. Lancôme

Progressive Web Apps (PWA)- What you need to know

Progressive web app of Lancôme has shown an increase of 17% in conversion rates, 51% increase in mobile session overall and a 53% increase on iOS alone. There was a 15% decrease in bounce rates and 84% less time was taken to make the page interactive.

Responsive Design Limitations

Fast-forward to 2017 mobile is not just an afterthought of a desktop designed website. Mobile is overwhelmingly the growth engine of the web. Over 50% web traffic currently takes place on a mobile device.

And whereas a responsive designed website will work the screen of a mobile user, it often takes forever to load, negating the perceived user experience benefit of fitting a mobile screen.

Many companies today are lagging severely behind when it comes to mobile. 77% of mobile sites today take 10+ seconds to load and yet a Double Click study found that 53% of users abandon sites that take longer than 3 seconds to load. At 10 seconds, approaching 100% of casual users will bounce.So over ¾ of the mobile sites on the net these days area unit forcing nearly each casual mobile visitant to their web site to bounce.

Progressive web apps have added a replacement dimension to the net development atmosphere. They are currently touted as the way forward for app development. With few firms curious about native apps and most of them deserting mobile-only app development, progressive internet apps have started dominating the market. Firms are selecting progressive internet apps because of heir dynamic practicality and easy transfer, which ultimately maximizes reaching. By capitalizing on the imminent ‘stagnation’ of traditional apps, progressive web apps can certainly take the centre-stage in the years to come.

Future of Progressive Web Apps

The tools that we use currently in our web development are not yet congenial with progressive web apps completely and a lot needs to be changed to make PWAs as common as native apps. Yet the work has already begun in this way and a lot is under process including building a compatible framework and service support system. Web service providers like Chrome and Firefox are already providing users with a great experience with progressive web apps, while iOS too is not far behind.

A good number of firms and companies are already exploring the realm of PWAs, especially the new startups and companies that do not have their native apps yet. Progressive web apps is helping these businesses in increasing their reach, encouraging sales and providing great user experience. PWAs are helping these companies reach customers with limited internet connectivity thus building more and more clientage.

Progressive web apps are offering a better experience to users on various devices. Those struggling with loading issues due to poor connection or low conversion rates have found an answer in PWAs. Users do not need to completely abandon the web as was thought when native apps were a rage. In fact with PWAs getting famous, the future of native apps looks dark. Although it is a little far sighted but progressive web apps are here to change the face of mobile apps completely.

Conclusion

Parangat Technologies is a seasoned PWA developer with many successful app solutions under its belt. Our experienced team, varied domain exposure, and professionalism sets us apart from peers. App solutions created by Parangat climb the popularity charts and get trending in record time. Get a free quote on your next PWA idea or take a look at our rich portfolio.

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About the author
Sahil GuptaCEO at Parangat Technologies

With roll up the sleeves, dive in and get the job done approach, it was year in the year 2010 when Sahil started Parangat Technologies. Emphasizing on a healthy work culture and technology driven company, he has successfully created a workplace where...

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