Progressive Web Apps: doing more with less

2 July, 2019

It doesn’t matter what device users employ. This was true when websites were static and were simply made up of images and text. However, what’s really interesting is that this is still true nowadays, even though web possibilities have expanded to do things like streaming, interactive graphics and full web apps. Nowadays that devices have […]

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It doesn’t matter what device users employ. This was true when websites were static and were simply made up of images and text. However, what’s really interesting is that this is still true nowadays, even though web possibilities have expanded to do things like streaming, interactive graphics and full web apps.

Nowadays that devices have proliferated and are more popular, content can be visualized anywhere. With that in mind, a team of developers doesn’t need to think about the number of places and devices and their web site details when it comes out because people will begin to consume it.

But today there is a place where that works in a different way, where that is not true and that place is the app world. If you are creating an app, it is still crucial to think in which platform and device it will be used and you will have to build it or adapt it according to each platform. In this context, one of our big questions today is why should universality only work for websites? Why can’t we bring these features to apps? And then create once and for all an app that works correctly in every device. Well, we want to talk about how this is starting to happen.

The most complex software problem: distribution

Let’s do a brief review of the last 25 years. Not so long ago, in order to install large software programs you needed ten or more floppy disks. Then came CDs and DVDs that started a digital revolution.

And some years later, Google Maps appeared, a program that could work in any computer, not solely in one, and without having to sit through a half an hour installation. Google Maps showed that the web distribution model could really work.

However, with mobile phones things are somewhat different. How many times have you opened Google Maps from the browser? Exactly, not even once.

The most complex issue with software is distribution. Application developers often spend more than they earn in distribution. This issue can be solved with the web platform. However, web apps have historically been less proficient than native apps. With the arrival of Progressive Web Apps, web apps have become as proficient as native apps, including compatible features, such as push notifications and the possibility of adding them to the home screen, whilst maintaining the accessibility of the web platform. Furthermore, we should keep in mind that a PWA is just one developed product, therefore work teams invest less resources and improve the results because they are not spread out in Android, iOS and the Web.

Progressive Web Apps combine the best of native and web applications. Most users spend more time on native apps (87%) than surfing the web (13%) from their mobile phones.

But, don’t be fooled, app usage is highly concentrated: users spend 80% of their time on only 3 apps. It’s a situation where the winners take almost all.

(Source: ComScore Mobile Metrix) There are some features that encourage users to return and reuse apps: notifications, even when the app is closed, reengagement features, which prompt users to stay on the apps, and desktop icons, which give apps constant visibility.

Regarding access, native apps have the virtue of running fast and efficiently, they can be used offline, they allow you to save and share your files. Whereas web apps appear to be more secure and respectful of the user’s privacy but lack the features of native apps.

Moreover, Google Data shows that mobile device users visit around 100 web sites per month. If you think about it, it’s not that much.

Now then, what do Progressive Web Apps offer?

Reliability: let’s talk about this. We are all aware that time is money. It’s important to highlight that there are studies that show that speed reduces bounce rate when app load time is faster.

Another study shows that 40% of users abandon websites that take over 3 seconds to load. What would happen it weren’t necessary to go through the web every time you logged in? Maybe information could be stored in the cache memory in a reliable and smart way. Well, this is what service workers do. They activate the possibility of safe performance. To sum up, after the first visit, sites and apps can be fast and reliable. Ok, that’s great, but how is the first visit experience?

Google’s AMP project wants that first visit to be a great experience: it would increase speed four times, it would have an average load time of one second and it would reduce ten times the use of mobile data. It would be interesting to achieve that!

Progressive Web Apps are user experiences that have the reach of the web, and are:

  • Reliable: Load instantly and never show the downasaur, the indication of no internet connection, even in uncertain network conditions.
  • Fast: Respond quickly to user interactions with silky smooth animations and no janky scrolling.
  • Engaging: Feel like a natural app on the device, with an immersive user experience.

This new level of quality allows Progressive Web Apps to earn a place on the user’s home screen because they have numerous high-quality features.

A brief review of their reliability and speed

Now then, let’s expand on the features mentioned above. Let’s start with reliability: when launched from the user’s home screen, service workers enable a Progressive Web App to load instantly, regardless of the network state.

But the technical question is, how is that achieved? A service worker, written in JavaScript, is like a client-side proxy and puts you in control of the cache and how to respond to resource requests. So by pre-caching key resources you can eliminate the dependence on the network, ensuring an instant and reliable experience for your users.

Regarding speed, we should pay attention to the numbers: 53% of users will abandon a site if it takes longer than 3 seconds to load. And that’s not all, once loaded, users expect them to be fast—no janky scrolling or slow-to-respond interfaces. This can be achieved with a PWA!

Everyone wants to make sure that every user interaction with their website is an engagement.

Progressive Web Apps are installable and live on the user’s home screen and, most importantly, without the need for an app store.

Besides, it’s important to mention that another great advantage that helps distribution is that Android PWAs are now also available in the App Store which gives them much more visibility to millions of new users. They are not available in the Apple Store yet. To sum up and get back on topic, PWAs offer an immersive full screen experience with help from a web app manifest file and can even re-engage users with web push notifications.

El manifest file de la aplicación web permite controlar cómo aparece la aplicación y cómo se inicia. Se pueden configurar los íconos de la pantalla de inicio, la página que se cargará cuando se inicie la app, la orientación de la pantalla y también si se prefiere que se muestre el navegador, o no.


Progressive Web Apps
10 key features

Building a high-quality Progressive Web App has incredible benefits, making it easier to delight your users, grow engagement and increase conversions. So let’s make a brief list of the general advantages:

  1. They can be published in the Android App Store.
  2. They appear in the home screen exactly like native apps.
  3. They load fast even on low quality networks such as 3G.
  4. Push notifications increase the possibilities of building customer loyalty. 
  5. They are extremely light and can be installed in less than 10 seconds.
  6. They have offline features that are crucial in certain areas and industries such as AgTech. 
  7. They reinstall themselves! If the user resets or changes his Smartphone.

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