Introduction

A progressive web application (PWA) is a JavaScript app that blurs the lines between a mobile app and a web app. Traditionally, people have held a dim view of JavaScript apps on mobile devices. Critics believe that core feature of iOS and Android can only be accessed through native apps, and that JavaScript apps leave much to be desired in terms of user experience.

While there is a time and place for native apps, the vast majority of businesses and use cases are currently supported by PWAs. When properly configured, a progressive web app can offer native-level experiences and support for advanced features including biometric authentication, push notifications, offline mode (caching), and even displaying a custom app icon on the user's home screen.

PWAs are an evolving part of the software landscape and, as such, it's important to understand the implications of PWAs from both a technical and business perspective. In this post, we're going to explore the State of Progressive Web Apps in 2018 and why they matter to your business. Let's get started!

What is a PWA?

  • "PWAs are JavaScript applications that combine the best features of a modern web browser with the functionality of a native mobile app."

The State of PWAs in 2018

In 2018, we are seeing a sharp rise in the number of PWAs. These are not experimental runs either. Companies ranging from Twitter and Pinterest to Virgin America, Starbucks, and Alibaba are deploying progressive web apps to millions of users across the globe.

PWAs are replacing native applications for a few reasons. First, a progressive web app is written in JavaScript, the same programming language used for rich websites and web apps. Companies benefit from being able to staff generalists instead of having a bespoke team for web, iOS, Android, and so on.

Further, PWAs are compatible with any device that has a modern web browser. That means there is a whole world of "smart devices" – televisions, video game consoles, home appliances, vehicles, and much more – that your PWA can run on. Importantly, PWAs also support any new product that has yet to be launched!

PWAs are platform agnostic and help bridge the "app gap". The "app gap" can be seen when comparing leading platforms (like those from Apple and Google), which have millions of apps, to those by other providers. Windows 10 Mobile (RIP), Amazon Kindle, LG webOS, and Fitbit OS are all viable options but it would be a nightmare to update and maintain products across them all. This problem continues to compound because consumers and developers tend to stay in the already thriving ecosystems, making the introduction of new software and device platforms a nearly impossible feat.

Progressive web apps can be downloaded directly from the browser (e.g., from Safari on an iOS device), but they can also be released in the native app store. That's right, you can publish your progressive web app in the Apple App Store and Google Play Store!

As a result, businesses can get all of the benefits of native app store traffic without resorting to building and managing distinct iOS and Android code bases. Moreover, today's large platform providers have friendly attitudes towards PWAs.

Microsoft allows PWA developers to have full access to Windows 10 features, Apple has officially supported PWAs as of iOS 10.3, and Google even offers a PWA Checklist! The same is true of modern browsers. As of September 2018, Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Microsoft Edge, and Apple Safari all support the advance features found within progressive web apps.

Quick Recap on PWAs: They can...

  • Support native features like push notifications, offline mode, mobile payments, and more
  • Download to the home screen with a custom app icon
  • Be installed via the browser or the native app store

Why You Should Consider PWAs

Progressive web apps offer a unique blend of functionality and accessibility. Most notably, PWAs allow developers to manage a single code base (written in JavaScript) that can run on any device with a modern browser.

Devices change over time: sometimes a change is as minor as a new screen size, other times a whole new product category is created. Regardless, these changes require businesses to reconsider the customer experience. With PWAs, your team can focus on delivering customer value instead of managing a patchwork of different code bases.

Businesses looking to reach a broad audience and immerse users in their brand across all platforms – including smart devices – should consider PWAs. At their core, they offer a seamless way to unify user interfaces (UI) and user experiences (UX) across devices.

Small, fast-moving teams can also leverage PWAs to stay within tight budgets and timelines. In truth, we believe that 90%+ of businesses are better off building a single progressive web app as opposed to building and maintaining multiple native apps.

Whether you work for a growing business or an established brand, PWAs are an effective way to create a great user experience for your customers.

Conclusion

At Tragic Media, we are experts at architecting, building, and supporting JavaScript applications. We are optimistic on the future of PWAs because of the benefits they provide to all businesses, even those not traditionally classified as "technology companies".

We focus on providing maximum business value to our customers and – when scoped properly – a progressive web app offers just that. PWAs run on any modern browser, thus run across a variety of devices. And because there is only a single code base to manage, app enhancements and updates are immediately seen across all platforms.

Our experienced team has built PWAs for industry-leading brands

Our experienced team has built PWAs for industry-leading brands and the results are clear: leveraging PWAs creates a clear advantage when it comes to new feature development, ongoing maintenance, and testing when compared to multiple native applications.

Found the State of PWAs in 2018 helpful? Looking to learn more about Progressive Web Apps? Check out these resources or contact us today!

 

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