What You Need to Know about Progressive Web Apps

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Progressive web apps (PWAs) give businesses a third option when it comes to interacting with mobile devices users. Discover what PWAs are and the advantages of using them.

If you haven’t heard much about progressive web apps (PWAs) yet, that’s about to change. Although Google introduced them back in 2015, these apps are only now being thrust into the limelight, thanks in part to Microsoft’s official support for them in the Windows 10 April 2018 Update. Here is a quick rundown of what PWAs are and the advantages they offer.

PWAs Explained

Until a few years ago, businesses that wanted to connect with mobile device users had two choices: offer a native mobile app or create a mobile website. Nowadays, there is another option: provide a PWA.

PWAs are basically mobile apps delivered through web browsers, according to mobile solution experts. They include advanced technologies, the most notable of which is the service worker. According to Google, a service worker is a script that web browsers run in the background, separate from a web page. This script is what makes many of the PWA’s unique features possible.

The Google Chrome web browser has supported service workers for quite some time. Microsoft Edge also now supports them, thanks to the Windows 10 April 2018 Update. And Apple quietly added service worker support in Safari in the March 2018 release of iOS 11.3.

The Benefits of Using PWAs

Because PWAs use service workers and other advanced technologies, they offer several advantages, including:

  • PWAs have app-like qualities even though they run in a browser. For example, PWAs run in a separate window like native mobile apps do.
  • They can run offline.
  • PWAs usually load much faster than native mobile apps or mobile websites.
  • The same PWA typically works on any browser that supports the PWA’s underlying technologies (e.g., service workers).
  • You do not need to download and install a program from an app store to use a PWA.
  • PWAs update themselves much in the same way a web page updates when it is refreshed. As a result, users do not have to update PWAs like native mobile apps. This makes PWAs easier to use and often more secure, as many mobile device users to do not regularly update their apps.

How Your Business Can Take Advantage of PWAs

Because of the benefits they offer, the popularity of PWAs is expected to increase rapidly. Companies such as Twitter, Forbes, and Google Maps already offer them. Even if you do not want to create a PWA to use to engage your customers, you might find them to be a useful tool in your own operations. For instance, you might use Twitter’s PWA, Twitter Lite, to post and respond to tweets about your business.