There is no shredder of a doubt that mobile apps are the big thing in today’s time. The greater number of people is engaged in mobile apps these days than a desktop. If we talk in mobile perspective, according to the report published by ComScore, in 2017, mobile app shows stronger authority than mobile web. As people are connected easily using the mobile app, the website or web applications are not being considered a prime choice. Bearing in mind the facts for mobile apps, over 83 percent of people prefer using mobile app as a medium to connect over 13 percent people, who are still using mobile web. 

It is pretty clear with all these numbers that mobile applications are leading the technology race which enabled users to stay connected with each other easily. What remains the main concern is to choose from a variety of app development options from a developer’s perspective. Not so time ago, there were 3 primary options for any business to select when it comes to mobile app development, which are native, hybrid and cross-platform mobile app development. Now as time goes by, new technology came into existence, and by now, something called progressive web apps are in the works. 

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Progressive Web Apps

Progressive Web Apps is a stack of app development technique used by many software developers which involve in using website technologies (HTML, CSS, JS) to develop apps which are more closely resembled native apps. The main feature of Progressive WebApps is its feel and experience is somewhat identical to a native app with all its perks in place, that’s why it’s getting so much attention as Progressive Web App, eases the development scale for engineers and shows a native feel for users altogether. But to understand, all it uses is the mobile web, which is precede mostly by HTTP protocol. When a user clicks an icon for the mobile app, building using this method, all it sees a website but feel like a native app. Progressive web app firstly came into existence in 2015 by Google and is now considered to be an engaging topic among many developers and users due to its modest approach and fast learning curve.

Progressive Web App vs. Simple Web Apps

Indeed the first thing that came into mind is the reason behind differentiating ordinary web apps from progressive web apps, despite either of them is built using the same technology. For simple web apps, the apps uses web technologies and are operated through the website, same goes with the progressive web app, but the ultimate principle between the web app and Progressive Web App is the discoverability from a user experience that an app is built on web technologies. A progressive Web App uses all the corrective measures in concealing the fact that the app is made through web technologies. 

The web app is used instantly if a mobile app is connected with an internet, all you need is a simple click of a button and you’re all set to go, unlike a native mobile app which needs to be installed first into your smartphones. Also, sharing an app through web link helps users to show other people what you’re using simply by the click of a button, and it will be downloaded instantly.

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For a native mobile app, the user downloads it from an app store and is specifically developed to cater particular mobile OS, so that user can access the app to its full capacity just by tapping on the app icon and they’re all good to go. Not only that, but the native app also holds a special place in the eyes of the user due to an offline feature provided by most of them, and unlike websites or web apps, they are more lucid and dynamic. 

So to have benefits of a website, of no download and instant use, and also the benefits of OS based feel and usage, Progressive web apps are the next technology inline for future app developments, because it carries the best of both worlds. The apps which are developed using Progressive web apps structure prominently separates the user from the unpleasantries of web app or standard website, and also, the extra time used to download and install an app for the first time, so the benefits stored for Progressive web apps are a bundle. Let’s learn in details some of the prominent features and benefits for having a progressive web app for your businesses.

Progressive Web Apps Highlighting Features

Before going into deeps in understand this ocean of app development, let’s have a quick walk-through of on which bases the Progressive Web Apps has retained a special position among many start-ups and developers around the World. In short, Progressive Web Apps takes the best stuff from a standard web app and a native mobile app that much is being understood. The working mechanism behind such power involves some technicalities that include Service worker, HTTP protocol handling, manifest file for app configuration, and shell architecture which covers all the OS specifics and churns out to provide a native feel thought the app. The biggest activity that Progressive Web Apps uses is the service worker that does all the heavy lifting, working silently in the background over an HTTP browser platform. But that service worker, a JS script, also manages the files and attributes of the mobile phone’s OS which doesn’t require web page. The features are accessed thought the script files are all being accessible by a native OS, which includes push notification and background sync.

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Progressive Web App Origin

Understanding the derivatives of Progressive Web Apps and its origin is important to visualize its growth and how much this technology has matured over the years. Originally proposed byGoogle as to improve the existing web technology by providing a new form of a web app that operates even with a low network connection. This terminologyProgressive Web Apps was first being used in 2015 by Francis Berriman and Alex Russell. The reasoning behinds progressive referencing with the web app is to acknowledge the fact that web apps to be used the modern features into its fold such as service worker script and a manifest file that uses and operates without new any requirement of different OS support.

Characteristics of Progressive Web Apps

There are numerous benefits for developing a Progressive Web App but most importantly, taken user experience in the account is the major ingredient which enabled the developers to choose this mode of app development. Besides user experience, below are some characteristics that have a large portion covered when opt for Progressive WebApps.

– Reliability

Unlike websites or classic web apps, the Progressive Web Apps loads in a flash with no loading hiccups or delays, just like an ordinary native app does. You will never witness “No network connection” error when using Progressive web apps even when the network is slow.

– Fast paced

The reaction time is amazing that provide a sleek animation between interaction and navigation. The animation also feels fresh and native, not like a traditional HTML based animation which is a bit jerky for the least.

– Captivating

The app has a native feel and the ability to engage the user thought its immersive user experience and flashyanimation features.

Benefits of Progressive Web App

The real question comes now, should I go for a Progressive Web app or not? This is of course without a doubt no possible to opt before learning the benefits for progressive Web App has over the user. For starters, there are a lot of advantages and benefits that Progressive Web App provides so here we are going to learn the big ones.

– Cost efficient: The native mobile app requires a lot more resources which includes time and cost for development. In compared to Progressive Web Apps, cost of the later is lesser.

– Progressive nature: As the name implies, the apps build on progressive tactics in mind is OS independent, not just OS, but can also work on any browser in the World, which makes it even greater than a mobile app.

– Responsive: Like its predecessor, responsive websites, Progressive web apps works on any browser, but has the ability of an app, which makes the user double the merrier.

– Connection independent: The web app even works using service workers components which boost it even when used in offline or when in low connectivity.

– Native feel: The navigation and usage of progressive web apps are very original.

– Updated: The Progressive web app, by the of service workers updates remain fresh and healthy thought out its lifetime.

– Secure: Using HTTPS with SSL protocol enabled the Progressive web apps to become safe from any snooping or unwanted intrusion.

– Discoverable by SearchEngines: Native Mobile apps are restricted to app stores only, so opening up it other than a mobile phone powered by supported OS is a no show, but progressive web app can easily be detectable by Google’s search result as an application,courtesy from W3C manifest script and service workers technology.

– Push notification: This is the most important features among all if you want user engagement on the go. Through service workers and app manifest config file, progressive web apps uses all the features from a mobile app OS into its power.

– Installable: TheseProgressive web app can resides in your mobile phone home screen without downloading them in the first time, to save you from the trouble of locating them from the jungle of app store.

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Technical elements of Progressive Web App

Many of us may be wonder, who it’s possible for a web app to use the OS based features such as PushNotification and Background sync. Believe it or not, it’s possible now using only 4 components working with Progressive Web App. It’s important to briefly understand all these elements and how they work.

The Manifest file

The Manifest file, or commonly known as web manifest file is a JSON formatted file which comes with the progressive web app. The job of the manifest file is to control the app’s behavior or, in other words, control its configuration or settings. The user interface and app’s appearance is determined by this file and it’s up to the developer to use how may it seem fit. For example, if a developer wants the web URL bar to be invisible, he can disable it through this file. Also to point app launching criteria to and its execution thought series of animation can also be configured through it. Some of the popular functionalities which can be edited by Manifest file are app’s URL, app’s full name and short name, icon links, icon size and its location. Also the color of the theme can be controlled though it. All you need is to include the link of your manifest file to all the web pages for your app.

Service Worker

Service worker is yet another technical element used inside a Progressive Web App, which in responsible to handle OS based events such as offline mode, Push notification and Background sync to name a few. The service worker is a JavaScript file which is included separately from webpage and other app files. As the service workers, responds with server communication which includes network Web calls and event handling, the lifespan of service worker is usually short term. Let’s understand the 3features attained by service worker in details to clearly realize the potential of progressive web apps.

Offline work mode

The offline mode is possible through caching the application shell, which is also known as the app interface and retains inside the memory on first visit. So when the user reuses the app, the application retrieves the cached data from the memory. If the connection is valid, the app will refresh and show the details of the app directly from the server, which helps to reduce the excessive time load and unneeded information gathering every time. The user experience is improved drastically thought this system. For example, a messaging app will display all information, such as your contacts, message history, avatar, personal information without any internet connection, but for messaging, you need network connection to be restored.

Push Notification

Progressive web apps can show push notifications to the user which is an important feature for user engagement and also the life blood for gaining loyalty for users. Progressive web app can send Push Notification to the users even when the browser is closed, or the app is not working, due to the caching feature by service worker.

Background sync

Like for native apps, Progressive app, with the help of service workers can also provide background synchronization to the user. Suppose, you send a message through a chatting app, but at the last moment, the network is offline, so you will see the message to be sent by the app. Once the connection is restored, you message will be sent automatically and it will be done via background sync feature, which helps the user to perform a lot of other functionalities using this feature altogether.

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Progressive Web app interface technology

As mentioned before, the progressive web app uses a technology known as application shell for its interface. The reasoning behind this technology instead using is to separate static content with the dynamic content, which mostly resides in variables. These variables and its data is fetched once the internet connection is retained, so for the static content, it’s all the images, color pallet and animation in between that remains static thought out the application. This app shell is basically JavaScript files that use heavy data communication between the application and its core files, so that caching can be done with ease.

Examples of Progressive Web Apps

Progressive web apps are used by big companies as its regain a lot of popularity over the years. Here are some of the examples of these apps used by the giants.

Twitter

Twitter Lite, which goes with the URL of mobile.twitter.com, is developed over progressive web app architecture. The reason for this web app is to quicken the mobile experience that looks more like an app rather than a responsive website. The twitter lite came into the fold around the World in April 2017, which was greatly praised by the users due to its flexibility and light-weight nature. The app also has features of instant loading mechanism, low data consumption and better user engagement through push notification.

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UBER

Besides UBER mobile app, the company felt the need for developing a web app which can be run in low internet connectivity, even in 2G network. For that purpose, they created a Progressive web app which can be seen in m.uber.com, which is quite light weight and also works when there is no internet connectivity. The website is very small in size, everything in 50kb, so that it can work even in minimum internet speed. With the use of service worker and its provided features such as background sync and caching storage, the user experience improve tenfold even when the internet is not working normally.

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Conclusion

Understand the latest technologies and how fortune 500 and tech giants are using them is important for every tech enthusiast either working in a corporate or personally. We have looked how Progressive web app are changing the dynamics of Web 2.0, and with the features such as Push notification, Background Sync, Service worker and Webapp manifest, all of them are in tuned to provide the best possible solutions for users and improve the company overall approval among their competitors.

SleekDigital is a Mobile App Development Agency in Singapore that helps businesses transform digitally. We also offer digital transformation consultation and genera digital consultation for companies who are looking for suggestions of different systems to be integrated. This is more of companies who lack a digital consultant to propose technologies. Arrange a digital consultation with us today!