Progressive Web App (PWA) Development – A new frontier for application development

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Progressive Web App (PWA) Development – A new frontier for application development

PWAs combine two paths, that of creating apps for the digital stores of mobile devices and that of focusing on applications that can be used via browser. Find out why they are the best solution
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What is a Progressive Web Apps? When we talk about PWA, we refer to web applications developed and loaded like normal web pages, but which can be used and installed on mobile devices, behaving similarly to native applications.

The development of Android and IOS apps, especially in recent years, is therefore combined with the PWA technique which, in some cases, could prove to be the most effective for your business.

This is also why it is essential to rely on companies that create apps professionally, such as Noitech.
We will be able to evaluate and direct you towards the best choice and entrust the App creation phase to our expert developers.

Meanwhile, between the development of IOS Apps, the creation of Apps for Android systems, and web apps, in this article we will focus a lens on Progressive Web Apps.

PWA: the art of combining two paths 

There are two paths commonly followed today by App developers: Web App or Android and IOS App development for their digital stores.

The first of the two has considerable advantages.

A Web app is first and foremost easy to share via link, which can circulate via social media, messaging or even word of mouth.

If you are wondering how to install PWA, the answer will be short. You don't need to install anything. A big advantage in light of recent statistics that speak of users who are increasingly less accustomed to installing new apps on their devices. The transition, if necessary, occurs only after being conquered by the App.

Another plus point lies in the fact that a Web App can truly define itself multiplatform. This is because it can be easily used not only from mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets, but also from PC or Mac.

The real and only advantage of creating traditional applications, or developing Apps for digital stores, lies in the possibility that these are installed on your smartphone and tablet.

In other words, the development of Android and IOS apps allows users to always carry them with them on mobile devices.

A Progressive Web App, however, combines the two worlds.

Its characteristic is in fact that of being a Web App, but can also be installed on mobile devices. In this way, the user can evaluate the App by using it in its Web version, and then decide later whether to install it on their smartphone or tablet.

How PWAs work

Ultimately, the Progressive Web Apps are web applications designed to provide a user experience similar to that of a native mobile application, but which can be used through a web browser. 

This means that users can access the application without having to download it from a store, making PWAs lighter, faster to load and easier to use.

PWAs use advanced web technologies such as Service Workers, which allow the application to work offline and send push notifications. Furthermore, PWAs are designed to be responsive, so they automatically adapt to the different screen sizes of the devices used by users.

For PWAs to work correctly, however, the browser on which they run must support them. Currently, most modern browsers support PWAs, but there are still some exceptions. Additionally, some advanced features such as access to operating system APIs may not be supported on all devices.

Web App and Progressive Web App development: main differences

There are two distinct approaches behind the development of web apps and progressive web apps (PWAs).

A traditional web app it is essentially a web application designed to be used on a browser. It can be accessed via a URL and requires an Internet connection to function properly.

Web apps can be developed using technologies such as HTML, CSS And JavaScript, and can offer functionality such as interacting with databases, processing data, and accessing APIs.

On the other hand, the progressive web apps they are a type of web app that uses modern web technologies to provide a richer user experience similar to that of a native app.

PWAs can be installed on the user's device and have access to features such as push notifications, offline access, and device access (such as camera or location sensor). They are designed to be responsive and can adapt to different screen sizes.

A key element of PWAs is the concept of “service workers“, which is a script that runs in the background and can handle events such as push notifications, data synchronization and caching. This allows PWAs to work offline or on unstable network connections, giving users a smoother experience.

Additionally, PWAs offer the ability to send push notifications to users, even when the app is not open. This can be a significant advantage for companies who want to reach users proactively and maintain engagement.

Another advantage of PWAs is that they can be developed only once and distributed on different platforms, including desktop and mobile devices. This simplifies the development process and reduces costs, as there is no need to create a separate app for each platform.

The advantages of Progressive Web Apps

There are 4 fundamental advantages for choosing to develop a Progressive Web App, which constitute some of the main PWA features: 

No risk of ban from stores. Your PWA cannot be deleted from the digital store overnight, as there is no need to publish it on the same stores. It can be downloaded through your site.

No implementation constraints. To develop Android and IOS Apps, the stores impose specific implementation methods with respect to some functions of your App. This happens, for example, with the login functions or with the payment methods in the App.

All profits remain with you: No fees to pay to digital stores for all payments received through your App. The 100% of earnings therefore enters your pocket;

Simplicity and cost-effectiveness of production. Developing a Web App is cheaper both in the development and maintenance phases. On the programmer side, there is no need to use dedicated hardware, pay subscriptions, or learn to use proprietary languages of different platforms. 

Progressive Web Apps versus Native Apps and Hybrid Apps

Why choose create a PWA instead of a native App or a hybrid App? We will explain it to you by comparing the main differences.

PWA vs Native App

Installation: PWAs do not need to be downloaded from the app store, but can be added to the device's home screen. Native apps, on the other hand, need to be downloaded and installed from the app store.

Access to devices: PWAs do not have full access to devices, such as camera or storage, like native apps. However, some features such as geolocation and push notifications are available in PWAs.

Dimension: PWAs tend to be lighter and faster than native apps, as they are designed to run on any device and use fewer resources.

Updates: PWAs are updated automatically, without requiring the user to download the update like native apps.

PWA vs Hybrid Apps

Architecture: PWAs are web applications developed using web technologies, such as HTML, CSS and JavaScript, and use web APIs to provide advanced features such as geolocation and push notifications. On the other hand, the creation of hybrid apps involves the use of web technologies within a native framework, such as Ionic or React Native, which allows access to device features via native APIs.

Distribution: PWAs can be used directly from your web browser, without having to download and install an application. Hybrid apps, on the other hand, must be downloaded from the app store and installed on the device.

Functionality: PWAs and hybrid apps can offer similar features, such as offline access, geolocation, and push notifications. However, hybrid apps can access device functionality more fully than PWAs.

User experience: PWAs can offer a user experience similar to that of native apps, with responsive graphics and layout. Hybrid apps, on the other hand, can offer a user experience even more similar to native apps, thanks to greater accessibility to the device's features.

PWA vs mobile website

User experience: PWAs offer a user experience similar to that of native applications, with advanced features such as offline access, push notifications and access to device features. Mobile websites, on the other hand, simply provide a web experience optimized for mobile devices.

Offline functionality: PWAs are designed to work offline thanks to caching technology, which means the user can access the app even without an internet connection. Mobile websites, on the other hand, require a constant internet connection.

Push notifications: PWAs can send push notifications to the user, just like native applications. Mobile websites cannot send push notifications.

Access to device features: PWAs offer access to device features, such as the camera, microphone, and GPS. Mobile websites have limited access to these features.

Startup icon: PWAs can be saved as launcher icons on the home screen of the user's device for quick access. Mobile websites do not have this functionality.

Some success stories

Millions of users around the world already use Progressive Web Apps that companies from different sectors have decided to implement for various reasons.

In some cases the reason was to make the application "lighter" in terms of space occupied on the devices. In other cases we wanted to focus on the better performance of PWAs compared to native apps. Finally, another reason is precisely the economic one, relating to the high commissions that the stores retained compared to some Apps.

The most famous examples of Progressive Web Apps:

– Whatsapp Web;
– Starbucks;
– Uber;
– Spotify;
– Pinterest;
– YouTube. 

The latter is added to the list of PWAs that the giant Google has chosen to develop only in the last 3 years:

– Youtube Music (from October 2019);
– YouTube TV (from January 2020);
– Google Stadia (from December 2020);
– Google Duo (from June 2020);
– Google Chat (from May 2020); Google Drive (since January 2020);
– Google Photos (since June 2018).

To define the vastness of the areas of application, here is also a list of PWA for different industries:

PWA for ecommerce: AliExpress – Flipkart – Lancôme;
PWA for blogging: Medium – Forbes – The Washington Post;
PWA for tourism: Airbnb – – Kayak;
PWA for financial services: TransferWise – Revolut – N26;
PWA for online gaming: Gamepix – HTML5 Games – Instant Games.

Progressive Web App development

Relying on professionals is imperative to obtain a functional PWA suited to your specific needs. To understand why, just think that the process of Progressive Web App development passes through at least 6 different phases, and requires specific skills:

  1. User interface design: User interface design must take into account mobile and desktop compatibility, accessibility, and user experience.
  2. Creating a Web App Manifest: The Web App Manifest is a JSON file that defines the appearance of the application icon, application name, description, and other information about the application. This file is used to install the application on the home screen of the user's device.
  3. Implementation of Service Workers: Service Workers are JavaScript scripts that allow PWAs to work offline, manage resource caching, and send push notifications. Developers need to write code for the Service Worker, register it in the browser, and test it to make sure it works correctly.
  4. Performance optimization: PWAs need to be fast to load and responsive to provide an optimal user experience. Developers can use techniques such as resource compression, using optimized images, and reducing the number of network requests to improve performance.
  5. Testing: Once the application is developed, developers need to test it to ensure that it works properly on different platforms and devices. This includes testing on different browsers and simulating different network conditions.
  6. Distribution: After testing, the PWA can be deployed to users. Users can access the application through the browser and install it on the home screen of their device.

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