PWA - progressive web applications

01 March 2019

PWA - progressive web applications

Most users only use a few of the most popular applications on their mobile device. Moreover, we often install an application only to uninstall it in a few months, when we have never used it. Native applications take up a lot of memory and put a load on our device. How often have you given up installing an application because it took you time and a few steps to complete?

PWA, or Progressive Web App
, is the next step in the development of mobile websites. A progressive web app is a mobile website that looks and works like a native app. In today's post, I will focus on the advantages and disadvantages of this solution, thus starting a series of articles about PWA.

Advantages of PWA

  • The advantages of PWA include the fact that they use one source code for all operating systems and browsers. You no longer need to write separate versions of applications for Windows, iOS or Android. As a result, you no longer need separate teams and different technologies to create a PWA available on all mobile and desktop devices.
  • Progressive mobile applications look the same on every device, allowing you to provide a consistent user experience regardless of whether you are using the application on a desktop, smartphone or tablet.
  • For the user, one of the most visible facilities is the fact that he can install the application on the home screen of the device without using application stores such as Google Play, App Store or Microsoft Store for this purpose. When entering the PWA website, a message will appear that allows you to add the application to the home screen with one click, which is definitely faster and does not require any additional actions from the user.
  • Progressive applications are also slowly reaching application stores. As a result, users accustomed to the way native applications are installed on their devices will be able to find and install PWA in the same way.
  • Another advantage is the ability to hide the URL bar and browser navigation buttons, which makes PWA look even more like native applications - even though it is opened in the browser.
  • PWA is also easy to share interesting content with others by sharing URL links.
  • PWA applications take up less space in the device memory than native applications, so they are less overloading them.
  • Thanks to PWA, developers can be sure that each user has access to the latest version of the application without having to download updates. This allows you to develop applications and implement new ideas, and quickly fix any errors.
  • The undoubted advantage is the ability to operate the application or its most important functions offline or with a poor Internet connection. This can be done thanks to the use of local device memory and Service Workers, more about which in the next article.
  • PWAs are applications written in accordance with the Mobile First principle, which are responsive and use HTTPS. Thanks to the HTTPS protocol, they are safe, but also better perceived in the Google algorithm. Fast mobile applications, such as PWAs, are better positioned by the Google algorithm than traditional websites.
  • PWAs can display notifications and use device functions such as camera, geolocation and use of the system clipboard.

Disadvantages of PWA

  • When exploring the knowledge of PWA, you also need to pay attention to the disadvantages of this solution. One of them is that Safari does not support notifications at the moment. To add a PWA to the home page, the user must know that it is an application of this type and add it to the home page of the device himself, because the browser prevents him from being notified about it.
  • PWAs still have limited access to some device functions compared to native applications - they do not support Bluetooth, NFC, they do not have access to SMS, contacts or information about other applications. Therefore, PWA will not be a good solution for applications that need to communicate with other applications or devices.

What to choose?

When we are faced with choosing a solution for our application, we need to adjust the solution to the needs and what we want to achieve. PWAs will be perfect for simple websites such as stores, blogs or news websites, where the content changes frequently. For more complex applications, traditional native applications will be better.

The PWA application is definitely faster to install and takes up less memory space, and also loads quickly and works offline, which will certainly be appreciated by the user. In the next article we will describe the technologies in which it is possible to create progressive web applications.