Progressive Web Apps Are Here and You Should Get on Board

Progressive Web Apps are getting a lot of hype these days, and there is a good reason.

By Asaf Gur, Published 2018-02-26

Hype And Buzz

Progressive Web Apps are getting a lot of hype these days, and there is a good reason. They offer strong advantages to most types of apps. Having an app on your phone for just about anything, doesn’t make any sense to me.. However, serving apps through a web browser is in my opinion inevitable.
So what’s all the fuss about?
In a sentence - Serving mobile apps through a browser, and that’s all there is to it. But before we talk about what’s good or bad about it, let me take you on a trip on my imaginary time machine.

Let’s Pretend We Have A Time Machine

Let’s say that we are done doing all the cool stuff time machines offers - Going to a Jimmy Hendrix concert, watching the big bang (the real one not the series), meeting Einstein or whatever kind of time traveling stuff that you are in to. Let’s go back to somewhere around the year 2000, and see what apps you had on your desktop or laptop. My guess is, you had some utilities like antivirus, unzip and stuff like that. Some communication apps, like icq or skype, some “professional” softwares such as a word processor or photo editor, and maybe some games. Of course, last but not least - a web browser.
As time progressed, more and more software went from running on your machine to running on your web browser. Nowdays, I am sure that having a news app on your desktop would feel pretty strange. In fact, there’s a chance that you have little or no apps on your machine, and that you are quite happy with just a web browser. Mobile phones are a bit different, and we are not in the year 2000, but some say history is bound to repeat itself.

So What’s So Good About Progressive Web Apps?

Look And Feel

Progressive web apps look and feel like native apps.
Their features in respect to user experience are almost the same:

  • Work on full screen.
  • Home screen button.
  • Work offline.
  • Notifications.

Easy For The Developers

With Progressive Web Apps, you let the browser do the heavy lifting.

  • One codebase for all platforms.
  • Fits on any screen size.
  • All your users have your latest version, always
  • No restricments from app stores.

You can checkout https://whatwebcando.today/ if you want to see which hardware features are supported.

Easier For Marketing

Users can discover your web app through a search engine, or click a just click link. Today, when you advertise an app, the flow is like this: The user sees your ad and clicks on it. The user is then redirected to your app’s store page. There the user has to download your app, open it and of course use it.
With Progressive Web Apps: The user sees your ad and clicks it. The user is either on your app or redirected to a browser and then on your app. It’s much shorter.

Better For The Users

Last, but not least:

  • No installation process.
  • Minimal disk space consumption.
  • Faster loading times.

Are We There Yet?

Well, no. There are still some hurdles to jump over.

Users nowdays are looking for apps in the app stores, so if your app is not there - they might not find it.
How do you even explain Progressive Web Apps to a user? It’s not very clear, and most people are not aware of it.
So it’s a mobile web page? Or is it an app? Do I have to download it?

There is also the issue of the home screen button. The user has to first visit the web app, then go to the browser menu and click on “Add to home screen”. This is not intuitive and just not good enough.

Many users have more than one browser on their phone and can open your app with both. This can be very confusing, both for you and for the user. The user might see your app twice on their home screen, and you might think you have two different users.

It’s Not For Everybody

I believe that some apps will always need to be installed on the device. Wether it’s performance issues or just the nature of the app. It would be really strange to see an alarm clock progressive web app, right? makes no sense really. Games usually need better performance and we can expect that they’ll perform better when they are properly installed.

Are There Progressive Web Apps Out There That I Can See?

Yes! You are already looking at one.

But other than that:

Summary

So now that you know all about progressive web apps, you should get on board.
I hope you enjoyed, and of course, feel free to comment or share.
Thank you for reading.