The Power of Progressive Web Apps: Bridging the Gap Between Web and Mobile

  • By Pooja Neharkar
  • 31-08-2023
  • Web Apps
progressive web apps

Nowadays, the demand for smarter, more reliable, and more engaging web experiences is massively increasing. Every user today prefers using any website that loads instantly, provides offline functionality, and is responsive across any device. This is where PWAs or progressive web apps step in.

PWAs have emerged as a game changer that is playing a big role in filling the gap between native applications and traditional websites significantly. In this blog, we are going to discuss what a PWA is and how it is reshaping the future of custom mobile app development. Let’s get started.

What does progressive web mean?

A progressive web app is designed with modern web technologies to provide native app-like experiences to the end users. According to a custom web application development company, a PWA is usually a combination of mobile and web applications that comes with several features like cross-platform compatibility, immersive user interface, offline access, push notifications, and so on. Some of the key characteristics of Progressive Web Apps include:

  • Progressive enhancement: PWAs are compatible with any browser or device, regardless of the device capabilities and network connection of the user. The progressive enhancement features of PWAs make them highly adaptable.
  • Offline access: Progressive web apps can run offline or even with poor network connectivity. This is one of the significant advantages of progressive web apps that improve user experience & ensure continued usage in poor or low network conditions.
  • Responsive design: PWAs come with a responsive design & you can easily adjust their user interface and layout based on the screen orientation and screen size. It ensures that the web application works perfectly on desktops, smartphones, tablets, and other devices.
  • App-like experience: Another important characteristic of a progressive web app is that it gives a native app-like experience. When you use a PWA, its smooth animations, easy navigations, and smart gestures will give you a similar experience to native applications.
  • Push notifications: Progressive web apps effectively send push notifications to the users even when the web application isn’t open actively. This feature improves real-time updates & helps people re-engage with the application.

Benefits of progressive web applications

Progressive web applications provide several advantages that make them a perfect choice for both developers and end users. Check out some of the prime benefits of PWAs in detail:

  1. Cross-platform compatibility: Progressive web applications are designed to use different web technologies like CSS, HTML & JavaScript and they can run on every web browser. This makes PWAs compatible with different operating systems including Android, iOS, Windows, macOS, etc. So, it’s not required to build a separate version for any web application. This simplifies the process of custom web app development & minimizes its maintenance efforts
  2. Responsive design: Progressive web apps are completely responsive. This means they can adapt their user interface and layout based on the screen resolution & screen size of the device. Whether it’s a desktop or smartphone, the PWAs adjust their web content & deliver an optimal and unparalleled user experience. This flexibility reduces the necessity for separate websites for desktops and mobiles. This effectively streamlines the development process & enhances user satisfaction.
  3. Faster loading times: Progressive web apps are known for their faster loading speed. By using several techniques, web apps can minimize overall loading times & enhance their performance. Users always prefer using websites with faster load times which leads to lower bounce rates and higher engagement. The high performance of progressive web apps makes them different from native apps and traditional websites.
  4. Offline functionality: Offline functionality is one of the best advantages of progressive web applications. This means PWAs can easily work without internet connectivity. As PWAs are fully network-independent, they can cache important data & assets when you visit initially. When you revisit the web app, it continues to work perfectly with the stored resources and provides an unparalleled experience. This is extremely useful in areas where internet connections are very low.
  5. High user experience: The main objective of developing progressive web apps is to offer a native app-like experience to every user. PWAs allow users to install it on the home screen of their devices & support push notifications. In this way, user engagement & retention rates are increased. This functionality gives a native app-like user experience without any necessity for downloading and installing it.
  6. Less data consumption: PWAs are accurately designed & developed for less data consumption. They are equipped with advanced web technologies to provide content smartly. This minimizes the data amount required for loading & using the application. This is highly advantageous for all types of users.

What is the difference between PWA and traditional web apps?

Traditional web applications and Progressive Web Apps both have become important components of today’s web landscape. Both applications are web browser compatible & designed to deliver a user-friendly experience. Though they have similar features, there are some major differences between them such as:

1. Purposes:

A web application refers to a software system that is accessed through the web browser. Technically, it requires proper internet connectivity for proper functions. Web applications can be categorized into different types, from simple websites to complex platforms that can manage several tasks like content management, eCommerce, collaboration, etc.

On the other hand, PWAs are custom web apps that are designed with advanced web technologies and tools to deliver a native app-like experience. Progressive web apps can work on any platform or device perfectly resulting in improved user engagement, enhanced performance, and offline capabilities.

2. Accessibility & installation

Traditional web applications are usually accessed through URLs. So, installation is not required for accessing them. Web apps can easily be added or bookmarked to the home screen for instant access.

With PWAs, you do not have to worry about downloading and installation. Sometimes, progressive web apps provide an “install” option that allows users to create a shortcut on their app drawer or the home screen. Compared to native applications, the installation process of PWA is extremely easier & faster.

3. Offline capabilities:

Traditional web applications mainly require an appropriate internet connection for smooth functioning. If the internet connection is lost or poor, the application may stop working properly or become unusable.

On the other hand, PWAs come with offline capability, so that they can perfectly work in low or no internet conditions. This is because service workers, an essential part of a progressive web app, work as a proxy between the network and the web application. This allows web apps to cache important data and assets. This makes PWAs capable of offline functionality that leads to improved user experience.

4. Performance:

Progressive web apps are designed to deliver smoother interactions and faster loading times. To create a feature-packed website, several optimization techniques are used. All these techniques make PWAs more engaging and allow them to load and respond to user interactions promptly even in low internet connectivity.
On the other hand, regular web applications are also optimized but they don’t offer smooth and hassle-free performance like PWAs. The standardized methods and techniques make it simpler for developers to build high-performing progressive web app experiences.

5. APIs & device features:

Non progressive web applications come with very limited access to specific device functionalities such as Bluetooth, camera, push notifications, etc. They technically work within the web browser for security purposes and never interact directly with the device's hardware features.

On the other hand, core PWAs use modern APIs such as web share, web Bluetooth, push API, etc. This gives them easy access to a wide spectrum of device functionalities. This enables progressive web apps to provide native mobile app-like functionalities that make them more versatile & feature-rich.

6. App maintenance & support

Maintaining or modifying a regular web application usually requires several versions for several platforms like smartphones, desktops, tablets, etc. This may lead to high maintenance efforts & enhanced development time as every platform has specific requirements.

On the other hand, progressive web apps are highly responsive by design. This means they can easily adapt to different resolutions and screen sizes. This eliminates the necessity for separate versions. Progressive web app development reduces the cost of maintenance which makes it a more efficient and cost-effective option for businesses as well as developers.

7. Security

Last but not least, security is one of the important concerns for PWAs and regular web apps. Both applications run within the web browser that offers inherent security through sandboxing and same-origin policy.

However, progressive web apps give a proper security update as they are technically hosted & updated centrally. This ensures that users are always accessing the updated version.

Applications of progressive web apps:

Many businesses today are investing in custom web application development companies to create their own web app. Here is a table that shows the top examples of PWAs and their key benefits:

PWA examples Key advantages
eCommerce platforms

Offline access, Fast loading times, Engaging user experience, Enhanced discoverability, Cross-platform compatibility, Zero installation required, Auto updates

Social media platforms

Less data usage, Real-time updates, Push notifications, Offline access, Cross-platform compatibility, App-like experience

News & media websites

Fastest content delivery, Enhanced user engagement, Push notifications, Responsive design, Offline access

Banking & finance apps

Secure HTTPS connection, Push notifications, Responsive design, Offline access, Quick loading & transaction processing

Productivity tools

Offline access for data & tasks, Cross-platform compatibility, Synchronization with cloud solutions, Less data consumption, Automatic updates

Travel & ticket booking platforms

Fastest booking & access, Offline access to booking details, Responsive design for users, Push notifications for booking updates, Enhanced discoverability

Learning management platforms

Offline access features, Cross-platform compatibility, Less data consumption, Interactive & seamless,  learning experience, Push notifications for the latest course updates

Health & fitness web applications

Offline access to daily workout & fitness routines, Personalized user experience, Push notification support, Responsive design for multiple devices

Future of web app development

The future of web application development services is highly exciting & packed with promising advancements and trends. Here are the top 5 trends that will play a major role in shaping web application development in the near future.

  1. PWA dominance: Progressive web applications are more likely to become more prevalent in the next5 years. The ability to deliver an unparalleled user experience across several devices, faster loading times & offline functionality make them a perfect choice for web application development companies and businesses. As modern technologies and web browsers continue to progress, PWAs are expected to become the standard for any web app development project.
  2. AI/ML Integration: The integration of Artificial Intelligence & Machine Learning is playing a crucial role in reshaping web app development. Some of the widely used AI-powered solutions include chatbots, personalization & recommendation engines. However, the future of AI holds more opportunities that will help to create more intelligent, adaptive, and smarter web applications.
  3. Decentralization & blockchain: Blockchain isn’t limited to cryptocurrency. It has the massive potential to evolve web application development by providing improved privacy, security, as well as decentralization. dApps of decentralized applications are developed on blockchain that minimize the dependency on intermediaries and centralized servers.
  4. AR/VR integration: Augmented & Virtual Reality both technologies are rapidly advancing. Many web application development companies are integrating AR/VR into their web app projects. AR/VR integrated web applications create a highly interactive and immersive environment for the end-users without the necessity for other third-party applications.
  5. Improved security measures: As cyber threats have become increased, web application development companies are investing more in powerful security measures. This includes integrating encryption technologies, adopting coding practices, integrating multi-factor authentication into web apps, etc.

Final words

Progressive web apps have a transformative force that not only provides immersive web experiences but also transforms the way people interact with modern digital content today. PWAs enable businesses to reach a wider audience and allow users to smoothly access any digital content on their browsers. If you want to give unparalleled web experiences with offline functionalities and other excellent features to your users, this is the right time to invest in a reliable mobile app development company near you.

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Pooja Neharkar

Pooja Neharkar working at sphinx-solutions, experienced digital marketer and content writer excelling in successful campaigns across various channels. Expertise in content, SEO, email, and social media marketing, driving conversions. Passionate blogger and tech-savvy.

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