Apps and Progressive Web Apps: what’s the difference?
What are Progressive Web Apps
The term "Progressive Web App" (PWA) was introduced in 2015 by Frances Berriman and Alex Russell of the Google Chrome team to indicate applications that are able to make the most of the modern browsers’ features, and, at the same time, to behave in an almost indistinguishable way from native applications when used on a mobile device.
Progressive web app iOS, progressive web app for Angular, progressive web app on Microsoft... Progressive web app examples are proliferating (Starbucks and Pinterest are good examples).
Why have they been called "progressive"? Because they apply the principle of "progressive improvement": the more features the browser or device offers, the more features the app offers. This means, for example, that the same web app that can obviously be visualized through a browser, when used on a mobile device can be added to the home screen, used off-line and will enable push notifications like any native app.
PWAs represent the most current culmination of a process of standardization of web technologies, tools and best practices that are valid for all types of devices and that place users and the user experience at the heart of the design process, to enable seamless omnichannel user experience.
With that in mind, PWAs must be:
- reliable: they have to work offline and cannot frustrate users with error messages or, worse, malfunctions due to poor or no connection;
- fast: they must load instantly and they are expected to respond quickly and smoothly to user interactions;
- engaging: they must be as similar as possible to native apps and adopt their typical paradigms, such as push notifications and the possibility of being installed.
Obviously not everything is reduced to this, and the PWAs must also guarantee other almost "obvious" capabilities, such as being responsive and, of course, safe.
Touching just one technical detail, the fundamental element that allows you to evolve a standard web application into a PWA is the “Service Worker”, which allows to manage the characterizing elements of the PWA, such as the offline contents, the cache and push notifications.
Why are PWAs are so attractive?
PWAs are very attractive for both users and developers. We have already mentioned some of the characteristics that justify so much success, but we can name others.
For example, a feature that distinguishes them from native apps is that PWAs are "searchable", and therefore are found with search engines (new opportunities for marketers!)
Furthermore, it is not necessary to install them through the stores, which gives some freedom to both developers and users.
Another interesting aspect is the use of device memory, much lower than that of a native app.
Instead, mentioning some limitations, it should be noted that PWAs do not have access to all the resources and functionalities of mobile devices, and at the moment they cannot be considered completely compatible with iOS.
The impact on design should also not be underestimated; we wonder if - after the “mobile first” era - we will see a shift towards the concept of "offline first" design, considering that Progressive Web Applications will have to work even without a connection and, therefore, they will need interfaces capable of managing this scenario.
Entando and the PWAs
Entando is also addressing the issue of PWAs, consistently with the idea that has always guided the platform roadmap: improving the applications’ user experience.
In the perspective of simplifying the realization of PWA and building a PWA framework, the first step will be given by the possibility of creating what we call "Content Driven PWA".
In concrete terms this means the possibility of creating page templates capable of showing all the contents added (eg. news) with all the features of a PWA, without writing a single line of code.
See you soon, for more technical details and the official release of this new feature.