With mobile devices, the two most common ways of accessing information is either through an app or through the web via a browser. However, the web has recently taken strides to compete with native apps. Over the last couple of months, the web has been developing and changing in an effort to compete with native apps, including developing icons that live on mobile devices which can be managed like any other app, allowing access to the mobile device’s built-in functions, such as Bluetooth, GPS and the device’s camera.

What are Progressive Web Apps?

Progressive Web Apps or PWAs allow a site to be saved onto a user’s mobile device. The user can then access the site via an icon which opens up with a splash screen.

Browsers on mobile devices have come a long way by developing the ability to connect to mobile device’s sensors. Recently, with Chrome 56, devices have been able to talk to Bluetooth devices. Being able to connect to a Bluetooth device is one of the web’s latest features. Other features include the ability to use GPS, take photos, record video, receive push notifications and save information so it can be accessed without an internet connection.

The great thing about this is that the web is accessible on all smart mobile devices, allowing developers to code in a single code base that works on all operating systems making it easier and more cost effective than having to build an app for each operating system. There are other options that allow developers to code once, usually using a web framework, such as Titanium, NativeScript, PhoneGapp. However, this often requires extra work trying to get the app to communicate with the mobile device where native apps are written in the same programming language as the operating system.

PWAs are not being written in the operating systems’ programming language like native apps are. This means PWAs may be slower when their operating systems are pushed to their limits. However, this isn’t a problem for most PWAs as most apps aren’t as intensive on the mobile device, especially compared to games and or VR/AR apps.

Why use PWAs?

With a PWA users don’t have to download an app, which means less admin and less data is used.  Users can visit the site, use the site’s features and access their mobile devices built in features. If the user intends on accessing the site and using its features on more than one occasion, all the user needs to do is save the site to their device.

PWAs are also very reliable as they load instantly, regardless of internet speed or uncertain network conditions. PWAs respond quickly to the user and provide an almost seamless user experience.