Progressive Web Apps: The New Way to do Business Online

The Technology Empowering Online Businesses To Reinforce Their Tech And Market Disruption Potential

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By Rakesh Raman

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How many of you are familiar with the pop-up banner on your screen saying "Add to Home Screen" while browsing a website? The moment you click on the add button, the app gets installed in the background. Now you can experience the same on your mobile as you were doing on your browser without having to shuffle through the app store Technology now offers us the latest solution, called the PWA which is a fusion of mobile sites and native apps providing the best of advantage to the users.

What Exactly is a PWA?

No, it is not just another technology. A Progressive Web App (PWA) is a web app that uses modern web capabilities to deliver an app-like experience to users. These apps are deployed to servers, accessible through URLs, and indexed by search engines. A PWA enables the users to install the application from the browser window itself and access it just like a native app and provide qualities in web applications to make them reliable, fast, and engaging. The idea is to have an experience so uniform and seamless that the user is unable to tell the difference between a Progressive Web App and a native mobile app.

How Does a PWA Work and What Makes it Better for the Online Service Industry Than Native Mobile Apps?

While the whole world is becoming dependent on the internet, 60per cent of the population is still using 2G internet. Moreover, even though a majority of India's 391 million internet users are using smartphones and mobile devices, they are prone to facing innumerable network issues. Google announced the limited preview of PWA technology at its I/O developer conference in the US in 2016.

With PWA, there are no specific installation or app updates required and the development effort is low, which is a critical factor for start-ups. The idea was to enable the developers in creating a lighter version of an app for users who either have a weak internet bandwidth or don't have enough space on their mobile phones. Regardless of the network quality, the page opens quickly and an added advantage is that it works even offline which uses cached data from online activity and provides a unified customer experience. Since then, many tech giants like Twitter, Flipkart, Facebook, BookMyShow, MakeMyTrip have joined the club in rolling out lightweight versions of their services to give users an app-like experience on the website by using lesser data and faster speed. Meanwhile, companies are leveraging PWA to augment their reach in India, offering convenience to the customers affected by intermittent connectivity issues and to encourage non-frequent app users.

What makes PWA technology abetter option than the traditional mobile apps is the fact that they offer reliable and faster experiences despite strong network. The technology is more secure when compared with traditional web apps because they are always accessed via HTTPs. This ensures that the apps cannot be tampered or sabotaged. Moreover, users enjoy an integrated and seamless experience PWAs look and feel the same like a native app and even offer features that are alike, including push notification, integration with the system, a display icon on the home screen, etc. The option of sending notifications to the users offline also increases the app engagement for companies. But having said that the PWA version doesn't provide the exact visual experience as a native mobile app even though it replicates all the basic functionalities offered by a company on its traditional mobile app.

The Future That Awaits

PWA has been an important technology in the direction to make the web platform more powerful by elevating performance, reach and user engagement. PWAs are proving to be the best of both worlds for businesses across the globe. Technology is developing rapidly and there is more to witness with time.

Rakesh Raman

CoFounder and Product Head, Truebil

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