It is no secret that the number of users who consume content through mobile devices is increasing rapidly. With this growing user base, many companies have begun to focus resources on mobile app development. In the past, native apps have been the only way to achieve good performance and user experience on these devices.
However, hybrid frameworks such as Ionic have appeared in recent years that provide a way to create apps with traditional web technologies. Though often slower, they are cross-platform and easier to develop. Even more recently, a concept called progressive web apps has taken this shift toward the web to its logical conclusion.
Progressive Web App
A progressive web app is a website that has been optimized for mobile devices. They allow a user who is visiting your website to interact with it as if it was a normal mobile app downloaded from an app store. This includes a full screen interface, the ability to be installed to the home-screen, offline use and more. In addition, performance is improved for better user retention. Google provides a complete checklist of what makes up a progressive web app.
One of the basic requirements is the use of service workers to provide offline functionality. According to Mozilla, service workers are “proxy servers that sit between web applications, and the browser and network”. This means that for every request to the web server, the worker processes the request to complete actions such as caching the required web pages and assets for offline use. They also give access to native APIs such as push notifications.
Treated as an App
Another benefit of this type of app is that devices can treat it as any other app. For instance, when opened, the app would show up as its own task instead of as a browser tab. In addition, recent versions of chrome and android even insert it into the app registry together with native apps.
Progressive web apps take advantage of the mobile first approach to web development, which businesses should already be applying to their site. A well-done progressive web app can save valuable resources from being spent on a completely new code base and simply use an existing web presence to maximum effect. By adding a few files and using web APIs, you can take your mobile user experience to the next level.
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