What is a Progressive Web App?
Have you ever seen the Add to Home Screen prompt while browsing a site? This means that the site contains a Progressive Web App version. By giving consent to the notification, the logo of that site is installed on the smartphone home, along with the other apps downloaded from the App Store.
A Progressive Web App is therefore a web application, or a site that can be navigated by a browser that behaves like a native app, ensuring a better user experience in terms of interaction and navigation.
The term progressive describes the initial moment of the user experience, which perceives PWAs as normal websites. New features are being introduced progressively, in fact, to make PWAs increasingly resemble native multi-platform apps.
Where are PWAs used most?
PWA features are particularly interesting for blogging, e-commerce, and service apps.
Speed and reliability with AMPs
Speed and performance from the first load are guaranteed by the AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages), or pages from which the elements that slow down the site’s loading times are removed, significantly reducing its weight.
In 2016, Google integrated AMPs into search results, prioritizing them in the SERP. Once the page loads, the site caches resources on the device through the service worker. The loading performance also has a positive impact on positioning.
What is the service worker?
The differences between Google and Apple
Google was the first company to offer PWAs, in fact only the Android operating system offers full support for all its features. On the other hand, iOS only offers support from version 11.3 onwards. In addition to operating systems, not all devices support the full range of features of PWAs.
Some characteristics of PWAs
Like any technology, PWAs also have pros and cons. Let’s have a look at some of their main features:
PWA development only requires knowledge of client-side scripting languages. The implementation of this type of app involves significant savings in terms of time, operational effort and economic resources.
Users can be notified of the publication of new content or the availability of a previously out of stock product within an e-commerce.
Data updating is offered by service workers. The user does not have to do anything.
You can add the website / web app icon to the smartphone home, which becomes accessible without opening the browser.
Exposure on HTTPS protocol.
PWAs require much less memory than native apps to install; on the other hand, they are rather expensive from the point of view of battery consumption.
PWAs are adaptable to any device and screen size.
Greater freedom in development, since they do not necessarily have to meet the publication requirements imposed by the stores. On the other hand, the absence of controls and approval procedures can affect quality standards.
PWAs have URLs like any website, so they can be indexed by search engines. The user can find them directly in the Google SERP, reducing the number of installation steps and can link and share them just as easily. Not being published on the store, the traffic from that channel is lost.
Service workers choose whether to download a resource from the web or to retrieve a previously downloaded version, i.e. pre-cached in the smartphone.
What predictions can be made about the future of PWAs?
The technological research of PWAs is currently expanding. For now it would be foolhardy to say that Progressive Web Apps can replace native apps. The very fact that the latter are specifically developed for certain operating systems increases their potential for use. However, it’s true that not all apps need to tap into the full potential of operating systems. It is reasonable to predict precisely in the context of the simpler and more adaptable apps make PWAs successful in the future.
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