People are using smartphones for roughly the last 15 years. Ever since it’s been about how users can be provided with various features by means of an “Application” (i.e. app). Apps that allow you to buy things online to remind you to drink a glass of water to a lot of other things.
As the smartphone revolution started clutching-in on people all over the world, the companies wanted to give users different kinds of features loaded apps that they can use on phones, and make things Enjoyable & Convenient. In 2008, Apple launched the “App Store” & “Play Store” for Android phones, a store where all the apps are kept for users on Choose & Use basis. Apps downloaded from these Stores are “Native Apps.”
Other forms of App, the “Web Apps” couldn’t catch much attention in early days falling behind native apps in terms of features and functionalities it provides. What is a Web App- You open a browser in your phone, load a website that provides apps like functionalities.
What is a Progressive Web App?
As time passed, the Web browsers evolved by lips & bounds, becoming feature-rich and able to provide functionalities users would really enjoy.
In 2015, a Google Engineer came up with the idea of “Progressive Web Apps.” The earlier web apps were now able to provide advanced features and better experience to users is thanking advanced Web browser versions of Google Chrome, Safari, Microsoft Edge.
The Native Apps that were ruling the Userbase now had a Strong market-player in Progressive Web Apps (PWA). PWAs are accessible Anywhere, anytime, on any device. Dynamically responsive to any screen size of the device on which it gets accessed.
A PWA works only in HTTPS in all the browsers. Hence the user is always in a Secured environment while using a PWA. Let’s find out about PWAs in more detail ahead.
Why Do We Need PWA?
Native apps need to be downloaded from its App Store, requiring to be updated whenever an update is released. This native app, once installed, acts as a natural part of the phone / Computer. They can access the local storage on your device, various apps like Calendar & Contacts.
PWAs don’t need to be downloaded like a Native app. You just open a Web browser, go to a website feeling safe and secure, and that’s all. You are using your Web App. The quick loading time of the web app as compared to the slightly longer download time of a Native app stands as a great advantage. Not just that, they can also access the camera, microphone, and other stuff if permitted by the user.
Native apps need to have a particular platform-specific Native Code in order to launch the app on the respective app store. While PWA doesn’t necessarily have to be obliged to a Native code, neither needs to go through the App Store Approval Process. It simply launches, in the blink of an eye, in a browser tab. PWAs can also provide Push Notifications to serve users better if permitted by the user.
PWA can be closed by as simple as closing a Tab on a Browser. They are feature-rich, accessing it is almost Instantaneous and It will be updated every time you open it, you need not update it when an update is available. Another advantage, If a user is not on the latest version of the web browser, then the PWA will adjust itself to the version of the browser on the user’s phone and still serve the user with core features. So, there is something for every user class.
Progressive Web Apps are the Future:
A lot of established & household Brands have stepped into PWA evolution. Social media giants FB, Twitter; E-Commerce brands Flipkart, Alibaba; Other tech giants like Uber, Netflix, Google drive, Yahoo, AOL, Pixlr, and a lot of others have already rolled out their PWA versions.
Rolling out PWA did a great deal for twitter, they had increase Session Lengths of users, More Twitts, Decreased Bounce back rates. A PWA gives all the feel of a native app, from launching to working methods, even racing past the Native App in few areas.
The E-Commerce segment Flipkart launched it’s website’s version of PWA for their user accessing the platform using a mobile browser. Terming it as Flipkart Lite. The user experience was widely enhanced now for the Users accessing it by Mobile’s web browser, customers would now have a Native App like feel via this PWA-upgraded website version of Flipkart.
Then there are Installable Progressive Web Apps as well. They can be added as a shortcut to the home screen of the user’s device. So, when next time a user wants to access that PWA, he/she simply has to use that shortcut. Once the PWA is launched, the user can switch from One app (Native / PWA) to another just by simply using an App Switcher.
PWAs have a great feature that allows them to be accessible Offline or Even with Glitchy / Slow network connection. Once the user has an active network connection, the user can download the PWA to offline & then it becomes completely accessible Offline as well.
The users can access various entities (depending on the genre of the app) offline as well, any sort of tickets, itinerary, etc. PWAs can be used from Filling online forms to E-Shopping carts to something as simple as mails, depending on Specific Business Cases.
How to Build PWA:
PWAs can be built from scratch; as well as can be converted into a PWA from an existing website. A Progressive Web App at its center requires a Service Worker. This Service Workers simply Listen & React to the events. With Fetch Event being one such event, it is the main contributor behind the offline availability of a Progressive Web App. The Fetch event simply caches the Web data during an active network connection, and later on, allows the user to access if offline, whether there is Slow-No Network Connection.
Prior to creating a Service Worker, a JSON based App manifest is created containing information like Description on the PWA, Color of the background, Name of the website. This manifest acting as metadata, once the PWA is installed for the user. Going forward, this manifest is combined with the HTML Template of the Progressive Web App.
After completion of the above steps, Load the pre-created service worker. Deploying your PWA is vastly dependent on how the PWA is created and prior to deploying the PWA gets hosted. Hosting widely depends on the nature of the PWA, whether it is a Static or a Dynamic app.
That’s it, your Progressive Web App is now deployed and is ready to be used for the users using the URL of the Web App.
This Progressed version of Web Apps can be greatly advantageous over Traditional Native apps that we are all familiar with. In some cases, using both, The PWAs and The Native Apps, can serve a great deal of profit for an enterprise. Both kinds of apps have some specific advantages over each other, so using both versions of the app would serve users with the Best of Both Worlds.
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