Progressive Web Apps: What Are They & How Do They Work?

Gerard Escaich
Gerard Escaich, Content & Account Manager at AppFutura
Published on May 31, 2018 in App Development
progressive web apps: What Are They & How Do They Work?

A progressive web app is the new buzzword in the mobile app ecosystem. Mobile app development companies are falling in love with this ideal mix of a web and mobile app that renders the feel of a mobile application but runs on a browser. Progressive web apps are a wise strategy for both developers and enterprises to quickly build apps that offer better ROI.

What are progressive web apps?

progressive web apps: What Are They & How Do They Work?

A progressive web apps are a responsive version of a website that identifies that it is being accessed from a mobile browser. As the progressive web app comes with modern web APIs, it delivers an app-like experience to the users. Users don't need to visit the store; they can simply access a website that starts behaving like a mobile app.

Smart enterprises like Alibaba, Lancôme, and Flipkart are already basking in the advantage of switching to progressive web apps and a remarkable boost in ROIs has been witnessed by these giants.

But what does a progressive app do to create a better impact than its predecessors? Let's go over the features of a progressive web app before you start getting the gist of what it will change for developers and enterprises:

Native app experience

Progressive web apps offer users a native app-like experience as it is developed on app shell model and can use the device's OS features.

Browser Independent

These browser independent progressive web apps are globally accessible. As they are inherently progressive, they combine the best web standards and deliver a better experience on each browser.

Fit for all screens

Progressive web apps can be optimally used on desktop or mobile with a perfect navigation and feature set. A web app manifest file is a JSON file that is used to make it more impactful in responsiveness and engagement.

Offline connectivity

Progressive web apps cache the content and other website assets so that the user can access them even when being offline.

Auto updates

Service workers keep progressive web apps updated. In addition, developers can push an update without any restrictions.

Tamper Proof

Progressive web apps send information over HTTPS so that the app data is encrypted automatically. Without any complicated encryption procedures, you can make your app and its content secure.

User Acquisition Is Simple

A progressive web app does not require any kind of installation via the stores. Push notifications can be enabled easily with Push APIs. A progressive web app can be shared to users with a simple URL and although web app can be updated by developers without any restrictions, it needs to be the user’s choice. Imagine that a developer pushes changes without any notification while the user is in the middle of an important transaction.

Why are progressive web apps becoming relevant?

A progressive web app is a strong contender for mobile app and web app primarily because of three elements it focuses on:

  1. The user doesn't need to visit the Store and download an app.
  2. The progressive web app is easily discoverable by the end users.
  3. It does not take any space in the user's device.
  4. They can be developed quickly when compared to mobile apps.

The possibilities with PWA are limitless, as they come with advantages for the entire ecosystem that encompasses mobile app development companies, enterprises and end users.

How does a progressive web app work?

progressive web apps: What Are They & How Do They Work

Using a progressive web app is only a 4-step process. All the user needs to do is

  1. Add the progressive web app on a browser
  2. Once the website loads, it will encourage you to add the web app to the Home Screen. That is a onetime activity.
  3. Launch the web app from the home screen. You won't be able to tell whether it is an app or a website.

Progressive web apps use the existing set of files to render capabilities. Some of them are:

Progressive web app Manifest

It is very important for a progressive web app to look like a mobile app and this is accomplished by developers using the JSON file. It helps developers make progressive app visible on the home screen, just like mobile apps.

Push Notifications

With the service worker APIs, the push notification is built for progressive web apps. These are assembled on the PWA with Notification and Push API. The Push API works with the service worker and handles the tasks from the server end. The notification is pushed even if the progressive app is not active, and is handled by the notification API.

PWA Updates

It is not required that you release the updates for PWA. Developer may or may not release PWA updates. Once an update is released, it doesn't affect the user as the app gets synchronized with the current version when the user is not using it.

Service Workers

These are vital for progressive web apps. The service worker is simply a script that performs all its tasks in the background and is kind of a separate entity when compared to the web app. They have nothing to do with the user interactions, so they always work in the background but they render what is being marketed as a phenomenal aspect of the progressive app. Service workers cache all the website assets so the web apps are capable of delivering offline content, automatic updates and push notifications even if the web app is offline.


With Flipkart’s PWA bringing in 70% more conversion than its traditional apps, it seems that the figures are quite impressive. Nowadays, people feel the need of decluttering the phone and freeing up mobile memory. For this reason, progressive web apps seem like a great alternative.

What do you think about the future of progressive web apps? Share your ideas in the forum.

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About the author
Gerard EscaichContent & Account Manager at AppFutura

Gerard has been around AppFutura since 2017. During this time he has been an Account Manager providing support to all users and helping them in making sure they make the most of our platform. As a Journalist, he has also taken the role of Content Man...

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