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The state of Progressive Web Apps

Siw Grinaker on

Keep up with the future trends and developments in the world of PWA for 2020.

Progressive web apps (PWA) are a form of mobile apps delivered through the web, made possible by developments in web standards and browser functionality. A PWA is—crudely speaking—an advanced website that work offline and can use functionality previously exclusive to native mobile apps In short: PWAs are faster, simpler, more universal, more personalised, and can work offline.

PWAs have been around for some while, but what is going on with the technology? What is currently happening and what are the future trends of PWA? Here is an essential look.

Get to know design systems while you’re at it:

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Chromium still going strong

The free and open-source web browser Chromium from Google is one of the powerhouses behind the development of progressive web apps. According to PWA Tech Lead Dominick Ng, PWAs have become a cornerstone of Google’s efforts to give developers the power to create a more powerful, engaging, and useful experience for their users.

PWAs allow for native-like features without losing the advantages of being on the web, and Google is working on expanding the capabilities of the web to let PWAs become a universal, powerful platform—not only for content consumption—but also for creation, productivity, and gaming on both mobile and desktop.

The Fugu project, for instance, is standardising new APIs that bring new, powerful, cross-OS, and standardised capabilities to the web. New capabilities are underway, while at the same time focusing heavily on security and privacy matters.

https://twitter.com/webmaxru/status/1165009113836904452

In other words, the development of PWAs is in no way slowing down or becoming stagnant—Google and assorted developers are still investing time and effort in the fundamental Chromium project.

Read also: Lift your customer journey with rich web front-ends »

Edge becomes Chromium

As detailed by The Verge, Microsoft’s Edge web browser becomes Chromium-powered. While this might be exciting news in its own right, for our purposes we will point out that this most likely means that Edge and other Microsoft services will become more PWA compliant—thus fuelling the continued development of PWAs.

iOS is improving

Microsoft is not the only big actor getting more firmly on board the PWA train—Apple is also making progress. Mobile and web developer Maximiliano Firtman details what new PWA features arrived with the release of iOS 12.2.

The release addresses especially two problems iOS has had with PWAs, the reload effect and OAuth logins. We recommend reading Firtman’s entire piece on Medium, where he lists an essential list before delving into the deep technical aspects.

Read more: How to get started with PWAs »

Microsoft PWA store continues

Microsoft is not only making Edge into Chromium, the Redmond-based company is actively maintaining a PWA presence on Microsoft Store. The continued support of submitting progressive web apps to the Microsoft store entails several advantages: first and foremost showcasing PWAs to an audience of nearly 700 million active monthly Windows 10 users.

Other advantages with PWA presence on the Microsoft Store include trustworthiness, easy installation, and business insights.

Test your browser

A nifty way to discover the actual features of your current web platform is to use the service What Web Can Do Today by Adam Bar. This website showcases features in categories like camera & microphone, native behaviours, seamless experience, surroundings, input, location & position, device features, and more—and whether your web platform supports these features.

Use your phone when accessing the site to get the clearest understanding of what your mobile platform currently supports—or not.

Join the PWA communities

If you want to make sure that you are keeping up with all the latest news and developments of PWA, join the Slack workspace Progressive Web Apps. This is a gathering place for over 1,900 developers sharing insights and where you can ask questions about PWA.

If you like live meetings, the Meetup groups for London PWA and Oslo PWA are the places to be. Also make sure to follow these groups on Twitter: @londonpwa and @OsloPWA.

Handbook: Intro to building design systems

Frequently asked questions

What are progressive web apps?

A PWA is a lightweight website that can double down as an app on your smartphone, with fast loading, rich features, and a convenient app icon—without actually being a native app.

What are the business benefits of PWAs?

Quick and easy installation, always the newest and most secure version, and faster loading times lead to increased conversion rates from leads and customers.

What are examples of PWAs?

Twitter, Starbucks, Flipboard, Uber, Housing.com, Pinterest, Digikala, Soundslice, 2048 Game, MakeMyTrip, Padpiper, Yummly, Lancôme, Alibaba, Wego.

Will PWAs replace native apps?

Yes, but not for everyone. Games and other high performance related apps will probably keep on going native, but most native apps struggle with retention and app stores are overflowing. PWAs rank in search and can generate more revenue.

Topics: 
progressive web apps
developers