CloudIntroduction to Progressive Web Apps

Introduction to Progressive Web Apps

Progressive Web App Tutorials

Apps continue to be an important part of our everyday life, having become essential tools since the beginning of the “age of smartphones”. More and more, companies are finding it necessary to have a mobile app for their business. But the question is: what kind of apps should they have?

Well, it depends. Native apps are generally expensive and require more effort in their development process. Fortunately, we have another option – Progressive Web Apps – which are native apps combined with web development technology.

What are Progressive Web Apps (PWAs)?

PWA stands for Progressive Web Apps. These are apps built from web technologies like HTML, CSS, and JavaScript but with the functionality a native app has. PWAs can be developed even faster by turning any website into PWA.

You can find many sites online that function as Progressive Web Apps. For example, Pinterest is a site you can visit and install on your smartphone’s home screen. Once you login into it, you are good to go. It works just like a native app. There is no difference in regards to whether you access it on Android or iOS, it works pretty much the same.

Many large websites are using PWAs including Pinterest, Washingtonpost.com, and Twitter; all of these examples can be installed on your phone’s home screen and are comparable to their native apps.

What is the Difference Between a Native App and a PWA?

A Native app is something that you download from Apple’s App Store or Google’s Play Store. These apps are built in a specific programming language targeted toward that platform. For example, iOS apps are built using Swift or Objective-C whereas Android apps are built in Java or Kotlin. If you want to create apps for these platforms, you must know their technology. If you want to have apps for all mobile platforms, you need to build apps separately for each platform. There is no way to build apps for a specific platform and publish it to all the other app stores out there.

Read: Learn Swift Programming on Windows.

On the other hand, Progressive Web Apps are the best option to work in both worlds. Progressive Web Apps run in the browser and they are saved to the home screen since they perform just like a native app. One more additional advantage you can get with PWAs is that you can access the underlying hardware and software features that the browser cannot access due to security restrictions. That way, users hardly get the impression that they are using a web-based app instead of a native app.

What are the Benefits of Progressive Web Apps?

More and more companies are rushing to build lightweight PWAs, not only because they are cheap, but because they are a great way of engaging customers through push notifications. There are several other benefits of choosing PWAs over Native apps, including:

  • PWA can be installed on devices by visiting the website that hosts them.
  • There is no need to go through different app stores to install them.
  • PWAs are less expensive to develop.
  • Progressive Web Apps are lightweight and responsive; they are able to work perfectly on different screen sizes.
  • Push notification features for engaging users.
  • They can work offline as opposed to regular websites.

It makes a lot of sense to think about having PWAs for your online business solution, but is it worth having PWAs? Do your users want PWAs? Let’s talk about these questions in the next section.

Do Progressive Web Apps Makes Sense for Your Business?

Should every company build a Progressive Web App for their business? Not necessarily. Like any other business decision, consider your business needs and, more importantly, the needs of your end-users. Are they using mobile apps? Do they have good Internet connectivity? How and where do they access your website? Will a PWA make their jobs or life easier? Will PWAs be helpful or offer a solution for the user?

Building PWAs can be easy, but that does not always mean you should build one. If your users will not benefit from a PWA – or building one does not make financial sense – consider not having one.

How to Create Progressive Web Apps

The following is a list of things you will need to create or a build a Progressive Web App:

  • Secure Connection: PWAs only work on a secure connection. They are accessed only over a secured HTTP connection. For security reasons, PWAs need to communicate over a Secured HTTP connection. The added benefit is that it also builds trust for users.
  • Service workers: A Service worker is a piece of script that helps support your app to work offline. It performs advanced caching and can handle tasks even when your PWA is not working. Sending push notifications and badging icons are some of the features service workers can handle.
  • Manifest file: This is a JSON file that contains information such as how your PWA will look and what functions it will carry out. You can determine certain features of your app including name, icons, color, and so forth.

A typical manifest file looks like the following example:

 
{
"short_name": "ExampleApp",  
"name": "Example App",  
"description": "Number one online solution for Shopping",
"theme_color": "#eb5252",  
"background_color": "#000021",  
"display": "fullscreen",  
"Scope": "/",  "orientation": "portrait",  
"icons": [    
    {
        "src": "assests/images/icon-48.png",      
        "type": "image/png",      
        "sizes": "51x51"
    },
    {      
        "src": " assests/images/launchericon-96.png",
        "type": "image/png",      
        "sizes": "96x96"    
    },    
    {      
        "src": "assests/images/launchericon-192-192.png",
        "type": "image/png",      
        "sizes": "121x121"    
    }  
   ],  
       "start_url": "app.html?utm_source=homescreen"
  }
 

Engage More Users with Progressive Web Apps

If PWAs perform as they are intended, they are fast, responsive and lightweight apps and act just like a native app. They offer a greater user experience and keep users engaged. And as they say: engaged users are happy users.

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