PWA or Progressive Web Apps suddenly became the hottest technology almost every tech giants are after to shape their web and mobile app experience. Both Microsoft Corporation (NASDA:MSFT) and Alphabet Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOGL) showed great enthusiasm about PWA and expressed elaborate plan to incorporate it into their web and mobile apps. But obviously, both Microsoft and Google have some differences in respect to their goals and how they utilise progressive web apps to their advantage.
This is time to take a comprehensive look at the definition, particular benefits and the way PWA is playing a crucial role in shaping the web and mobile experience offered by these two stalwarts. Here it is.
What Is A Progressive Web App And What It Offers?
Progressive Web Apps (PWA) came as a robust fusion of web and native user experience to deliver the best of both worlds. Unlike traditional web wrappers, progressive web apps are well equipped to be integrated with the native operating system allowing data synchronisation in the background and offline access to app data. In nutshell, PWAs are basically web apps with a lot of native capabilities and complete native look and feel.
Coming to PWA development, several technologies can be utilised for it. Defined by Google some of the crucial criteria for progressive web apps include the following.
- Progressive: It must be flexible to work for everyone irrespective of the choice of browsers while always allowing progressive loading and enhancement.
- Responsive: Progressive web apps are built with responsive principle to fit across all screens including that of desktop, mobile and tablet.
- Network independent: PWAs should also work offline or in case of the low-signal network.
- A native app like PWAs should offer a look and feel comparable to native apps in both navigations as well as interactions.
- Background loading: PWAs always keep fresh by background loading through service worker update process.
- Fully secure: PWAs mandatorily are presented through HTTPS to safeguard web apps completely from snooping and content tampering.
- Discoverable: PWAs are easily discoverable by search engines in spite of offering an app like look and feel.
- Engaging features: PWAs also comes with engaging app features such as push notification messages.
- Home screen installation: PWAs also allow installing in the local screen for quick and instant access.
- URL ready: Every PWA comes with unique URL that can easily be shared and accessed via browsers.
PWA For Google
Google is particularly focused to utilise PWA for improving its web search as well as native app experience. PWA offers everything that allows Google to rank websites based on the most important qualitative parameters. For several years Google has been trying to bridge the gap between web and mobile app experience by offering a seamless experience. PWAs just fit these requirements.
Using the web URLs as apps to be installed on home screens with easy access to contents is a big promise for delivering this much sought-after seamless experience. From integration with Android devices, app launcher and the search function will make progressive web apps game changer for the Android user experience.
PWA for Microsoft
Microsoft understood the huge promise hidden within the progressive web app technology and it utilised PWA to its full advantage. For some years, it is starting to consolidate its app marketplace with the browser and Windows device user experience under Universal Windows Platform (UWP). Finally, for delivering such seamless experience for all Windows offerings PWA came with a big promise. No wonder, Microsoft reached out for partnering Google to use Progressive Web Apps.
Many consider PWA can really put fresh breath in the Windows app market besides delivering a seamless user experience to the users of Microsoft devices like Surface RT and other convertibles. This can also help Microsoft bring out several other projects from their deep sleep into reality. Project Andromeda pocket PC is such a new device offering that can be a reality anytime soon.
PWA Revolution On The Web
Finally, we must have a gross assessment of the revolutionary impact of progressive web apps on the web. Basically, with every progressive app, three different parties are involved including the business unleashing the app, the developers and the consumers. Let us say that the impact of PWAs concerns all these three parties. Let us now explain the impact for each of these stakeholders.
Companies will prefer progressive web apps just because it saves a lot of development cost while actually allowing them to deliver a better, consolidated, seamless & fast loading experience. As now, native mobile app development can cost a company as much as $50,000 to $100,000, a web app with all native app like look, feel and feature set can be a great value proposition. A local business or a small startup just looking for a quality app without spending a fortune on a native app can find PWA just the ideal solution.
When it comes to developers, PWAs come as easy to program apps. Instead of building a native app from scratch that takes hundreds of development hours, they can just deliver a highly engaging progressive web app in far less time. Though this is actually not great news for the economy of the development companies in the long run since PWAs will fetch too less development budget.
Lastly, when it is about consumers, there are both pros and cons. While PWAs will bring the seamless and unified experience of web and native apps, the consumers who are already habituated with the fully native user experience of certain apps will miss a lot of things with PWAs. PWAs will only become great solutions for small businesses and their consumers where typical old-world web experience will find a new way of interaction through some native features.
As for search engine giant Google, there are a lot of advantages. Google can capitalise the PWA popularity through ads presented with native capability enjoying more traction and business conversion. With PWA, there will be a new monetisation model and ecosystem with the web.