You may or may not have heard a new term floating around the past few years- Progressive Web Application, or PWA. Put simply, Progressive Web Apps combine the reach and capability of the web with the functionality of native desktop or mobile apps. So it’s like you’re using an app, but on the web.
Right now, most websites out there aren’t intended to be, and probably cannot be made into a progressive web app. So, why are we bothering to write a blog post? Because PWAs are the future. They are:
They can go beyond what a normal site can do. For example: video chat or file processing (like image optimization) is all simple to do, unlike now where you have to add in bits and parts of code from other third party providers or services. Not only that, they tend to have design elements that make them feel like an app and that’s just slick.
As Google Developers says in their documentation: “A reliable Progressive Web App feels fast and dependable regardless of the network.” So, whether you’re on your lightning-fast fiber connection or on the fringe of your wireless coverage in the woods somewhere, the app is able to function. Not only that, it functions quickly. When you’re using an app on your phone, do you ever wonder if the button you just tapped did anything? Usually not, right? That’s because you’re not seeing any lag (also called first paint) and it’s how progressive web apps work, regardless of connection speed.
Install from a website? Yes, you read that right. PWAs can be installed as if it were just another app on your device, in its own window and all! You can switch between it and other apps just as you would normally. But you don’t have to install it to use it. That’s additional security and privacy that you simply cannot put a dollar amount on as the world goes more and more virtual.
Right now, to us at 300FeetOut, it means that if we want to create a blazingly fast mobile site for your users, we can employ some or all of these techniques. It doesn’t necessarily apply to all general-purpose sites, but there will definitely be more and more use cases for it in the coming years.