It is that time of the year again, a new trend in web design has arrived and buzzword season is upon us. Service worker, App shell and PWAs – learn those terms and throw them around from time to time so people know you are well updated on the latest trends in mobile web design.
Although as cliché as this may sound, Progressive Web Apps are not just another fancy trend and they will not be going away anytime soon. What are progressive web apps and why should anyone be excited about them? Read on.
Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) are websites that function like native applications. They provide the user with the experiences that were exclusive to inbuilt apps. They operate on a simple principle which is to build apps that run on as many web browsers and devices as possible with increasing functionality for devices and browsers that allow.
Progressive web apps are able to work offline and allow for push notifications, integrations, and other device capabilities. Progressive web apps push the responsive web design that we have come to love to another level. They are built using the app shell model allowing web apps to provide app-style interactions and navigations.
Progressive web apps stay up to date using service worker functionality to update while in the background. Service workers are the amazing technology that drive PWAs. All websites should be secure and run on HTTPS to prevent snooping and progressive web apps share this belief as a core tenet.
Progressive web apps are discoverable as applications even though they run in mobile browsers. This will be a sort of relief for new developers trying to gain traction for their apps. Up until now app stores have not been very kind to these crop of developers.
Using push notifications, PWAs increase the likelihood of users re-engaging with web apps. This is good news for developers and end-users alike. Developers are now able to serve users the latest content on a timely basis and users are able to stay up-to-date without fear of missing out on anything.
PWAs are installable. Users can keep apps they find most useful on their home screen without the bureaucracy of an app store. PWAs are also linkable via URLs and do not require complex installation.
Is this the end for back end developers?
Not really. Not for now or maybe even not at all. PWAs are yet to integrate with the full functionalities of the mobile web – services like Bluetooth file sharing are still out of the reach of PWA developers and as such back end designers still have a role to play. Furthermore, the web is a rapidly evolving field and back end programmers have plenty of room to reinvent themselves.
The bottom line is PWAs put power in the rightful place – inside your web browser – so users don’t have to download all apps to enjoy the optimum experience. It also makes sure that all users have something nice to enjoy irrespective of device and browser. Plus it has massive support from device and browser manufacturers.