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What are progressive web apps

Thursday, November 2nd, 2017 by Servage

web-appThe term progressive web app (PWA) is a hot trend right now. It all started back in 2015 and quickly became popular due to the advantages it offers over traditional mobile applications. But what is a progressive web application? How does it differ from a typical mobile or web application? Let’s find out what the term PWA actually means and what makes an application a progressive web application.

The Definition of Progressive

In one sentence, a progressive web application is a website that looks and works like a mobile application. Modern HTML5 and CSS3 features allow developers to replicate many of the features native applications can do: storing data locally, using animations to navigate between pages and executing tasks in the background.

Because PWAs are websites inside a mobile browser, all features will work on all devices, provided that the phone’s web browser is kept up to date. When working with a native application using Android Studio, older devices don’t support the features provided by newer Android API levels. This means the features available for developers are no longer tied to the Android or iOS versions of their target audience, but instead to browser versions, which are generally easier for users to keep updated.

Progressive Versus Native Applications

Now let’s talk about the differences between progressive and native applications. Since a progressive web application is essentially a website, it might be tricky to create an application that works offline because the “application” is loaded to the user’s device before it starts. However, this provides one major benefit over typical mobile applications. PWAs are easier to maintain because updates don’t have to be pushed to multiple app stores each time a small change is made. Instead, the changes are deployed the same way as deploying a website. Users don’t have to do anything to update the application to the latest version.

Another benefit of PWAs is that you only need one code base to build an application for multiple devices. An application built with the same HTML, CSS and JavaScript works on both Android and iOS devices. With native applications, you would need to use Java/Kotlin for Android and Swift/Objective-C for iOS.

Building a Progressive Web Application

While PWAs can be built from scratch using custom HTML and CSS, or even a framework like Bootstrap, there are some tools and frameworks that are specifically built for creating progressive web applications.

A good example of this is the Ionic framework. In the past, Ionic was meant for hybrid applications only, which meant you had to install an application built using web technologies on your phone like you do with native applications. Now it’s possible to build PWAs that run in the browser instead. You can even make the appearance of your application match with native applications with a single code base. Ionic will convert your application to use Material Design for Android users and Human Interface Design for iOS.

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