Greetings from abroad: Progressive Web Apps are the hottest of all on the Internet

At the end of April in Oxford our developers participated to a seminar called Render that focuses on front-end development.

Render featured a lot of different interfaces and technologies with which you can implement modern web apps. The Progressive Web App (PWA) seems to be currently the direction where traditional website is heading too.

PWA is a website that can, as a native app, be saved as an icon into home screen on the device. Since it is a website, the web app does not need to be purchased or installed separately through the app store and no new versions need updating. The web app also takes up less space on the device than the native app. Because of the responsive design, the web app works on all devices without separate apps. From the implementation point of view, the web app is a lighter alternative than the native app.

The advantage compared to a traditional website is its fast loading and functionality even when offline. When at their best interactions and animations work as smoothly as in the native app.

At the moment technology used for web apps are JavaScript and Rest API. Service Worker handles data synchronization with servers at the background which in practice means that a web app saves contrary to native app only data that has already once been viewed online.

However, the web app is user-friendly in the sense that it will remember, for example, login information and usage history, for example, in route searches unlike a traditional website. It also informs in real time of new or relevant content with notifications. Unlike in the native app, content links can be shared and bookmarked.

Web apps use the same technology as the phone’s operating systems so eventually native features of the phone such as GPS and camera can be utilized. Currently, push notifications can already be used to make website engagement more effective. Also being present in the phone’s home screen increases application usage. Unfortunately web apps don’t operate with all browsers at the moment. Native apps enjoy the advantage of centralized app stores where users can find apps without additional marketing.

When should a web service be implemented as a web app?

Even today, building a basic website as a web app by using modern JavaScript libraries requires multiple workloads compared to implementation made by using traditional technology. In the basic reformation of a website it is not worth the effort but in the case of a larger web service, it may well be a reckoned method of implementation.

When designing a native app, web app is definitely a relevant and cost-effective alternative. At the same time you avoid the bureaucracy with different app store vendors.

Photo credits: @AOTV_ @whiteoctevents

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