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magento & ecommerce

​​Are Progressive Web Apps the Future of the Internet

Mobile web traffic is ever-growing. The number of online searches on smartphones and tablets has already surpassed that of computers. These days, it’s all about cross-platform responsiveness, and progressive web apps (PWAs) are the poster child of responsive design.

An increasing number of businesses around the world are switching from native apps to PWAs. So, the future of apps might be in the form of PWAs. A progressive web app is a browser-based app that retains most of the native app functionalities. They are great because they are easier to make than native apps and more responsive.

So, are progressive apps the future of the internet? Let’s dive into it.

What Is a Progressive Web Application

PWAs bring native-like experience and functionality to mobile and tablet devices. So, what do they do? Why are they considered a potential replacement for native apps?

To begin with, they are much more efficient.

As for native apps, they boast instantaneous loading. They are installed on your home screen and separate from your browser. They are independent apps.

However, PWAs are very much browser-based. They are run through and work on your browser. Although PWAs can’t technically offer instantaneous loading, they can offer this on your second visit. They can also be installed on your home screen and as a specific icon.

Even though PWAs are browser-based, they don’t have browser navigation features and offer a full-screen experience.

You also get offline access and push notifications.

PWAs vs. Native Apps

Although PWAs are most frequently compared to native apps, they are more like mobile websites. That’s because the same technology is used to make both PWAs and responsive mobile websites. The same features are present, as well. However, PWAs are tuned for an app-like experience. They bring with them easy development and other cool features.

So, if you don’t have a native app and plan on using your mobile website for app-like purposes, you may consider investing in turning it into a progressive web app. It won’t cost a lot of time or money and it will only boost user online experience.

However, PWAs aren’t an ideal replacement for native apps. In some cases, a PWA might be a better solution but they don’t have the same functionalities.

Key Components

To better understand PWAs, you should make yourself aware of the key components.

Service Worker

This component is the one you can thank for a PWA having the feel of an app rather than a website. Service Worker downloads and caches files locally (on the device) to enable websites to load PWA content quickly.

HTTPS

This component makes sure that your PWA is fed through a secure connection.

Web Manifest

Using a JSON file, meta-information is provided for a PWA. This includes the apps icon, name, background color, etc.

Icon

PWAs feature an image that a user can see on their home screen after installing a progressive web app.

Benefits of Progressive Web Apps

So far, we haven’t talked about the actual benefits of PWAs. We’ve learned that they can mimic native apps and most companies can release a PWA in place of an app. But why do it? Why would it be considered an innovation?

For there are multiple benefits of PWAs compared to native apps and website-loaded apps. Here are some of the most essential benefits that are set to make PWAs the future of the internet.

Consumer App Fatigue

You may not remember it, but the most exciting thing about early smartphones was the number of apps available. The entire ecosystem was conceived with the ability to download apps in mind. Need a game? Download it on the app store. The same if you need a horoscope app.

Over time, however, people have gotten blasé about native apps. It’s ho-hum and market saturation is apparent.

PWAs are refreshing new things in comparison. Essentially, they are apps, but they don’t require you to go to an app store and download it. They also look and feel different. PWAs may be a perfect antidote to consumer app fatigue.

FIRE

PWAs are FIRE. No, not like hot. This is an acronym that Google uses to explain the effectiveness of PWAs. FIRE is Fast, Integrated, Reliable, and Engaging.

Fast

PWAs are lightning-fast because they allow background processing, accelerating page load time.

Integrated

They use a set of web capabilities that is continually evolving. From a user’s perspective, PWAs look and feel like native apps – integrated and smooth.

Reliable

The reliability aspect rests on the fact that PWAs work great in limited-network and even offline situations.

Engaging

Because of all the above, PWAs are very engaging to the user.

Mobile-First Design

Mobile-first design means that prototyping and sketching are done for the small screen first and foremost. Before working up to larger screens. This may not seem like much. After all, it’s not a contest – all app versions are generally released at the same time.

However, this does mean that you don’t have to adjust a mobile app to anything. You don’t have to tweak and compensate for any of the functionalities to work.

For some reason, the native app development mindset is still stuck on desktop apps. They are the first ones created and the subsequent mobile responsive design comes second. That’s backward thinking considering that the rapid growth sector is smartphones.

Progressive web apps are made on the browser. Developing apps in browsers allow you to create responsive small-screen apps first. This means that PWAs are setting in motion the right mentality for the future of the internet.

Smaller and Faster

Because they are internet-based, PWAs take up significantly less space on your smartphone. Not having enough free space is a common problem among smartphone users and PWAs certainly help in this department.

PWAs are also faster than native apps. Except for the first time they’re run, which depends on the speed of your internet connection. However, they are built to memorize pages and are much faster than native apps after the first couple of times.

And yes, despite the fact that they are online-based, PWAs do have offline capabilities. Not only that, but PWAs will work when the very server is down. This means no lost content, which is something that users have got to love.

Market Outreach

You’ll always get more people with the internet than with an app that works via the web. For instance, people with slow internet connections will enjoy PWAs better. If those who have slow internet connections aren’t your target group, you may want to rethink your position on PWAs.

In any case, with PWAs you don’t have to worry about whether your users will be able to load the apps.

Into the Future with Progressive Web Applications

PWAs have yet to become popular. But you can count on them to become the standard at some point in the future. At the moment, however, PWAs are used where convenient.

To answer the titular question: Yes, progressive web apps are likely to be the future of the internet. Or, at least on the app side of the web. Getting aboard this train is best done early – you don’t want to have to switch to PWAs when everybody else has already made the move.

By interactivated • on April 30, 2020

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