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8 Top Features Of Progressive Web Apps

What are PWAs and what makes them worth developing? In this article we take a look at the 8 top features of PWAs.

PWA: Definition and features

The term "Progressive Web App'' was coined in 2015 by Frances Berriman (a designer) and Alex Russell (a Google engineer). The latter published on his blog the article Progressive Web Apps: Escaping Tabs Without Losing Our Soul which laid the foundation for PWAs.

Progressive Web Apps (PWA) represent a new generation of mobile applications. Developed by Google, they are no longer downloadable from a store but accessible directly from a mobile browser through HTML5.

Since 2017, the PWA has been perceived as a hybrid between the mobile application and the mobile website. Unlike conventional applications, PWAs allow for optimal fluidity of use.

After downloading via a website or from internet search results, the PWA is automatically installed on the consumer’s device (smartphones and tablets). From that moment on, after authorization by the user, this application is able to use the smartphone's features (camera, geolocation, etc.).

You may also check out this article to learn more about the features of PWA.

Top features of PWA

PWA applications are often compared with native mobile applications, but it is important to know that the former run in a web browser. Therefore, they are multiplatform: beyond tablets and smartphones, they also cover computers, televisions, refrigerators, etc. Moreover, they do not require downloading from the Apple or Android store: a link share is enough.

Whatever the device (mobile, computer, tablet...), a web application is identified as a PWA when it meets the set of characteristics presented below:
  1. Progressive: works for all users, whatever the browser or device
  2. Responsive: displays correctly and adjusts automatically to the screen size of the device used
  3. Has an experience close to a native application (mobile or desktop): a single application developed
  4. Secure: the connection must be done in HTTPS
  5. Easily installed on the device: shortcut on the desktop for a PC and on the home screen for a smartphone
  6. Works regardless of connectivity: low speed or loss of connection (offline)
  7. Performance: the application must be fast to start and fluid
  8. You can share a link to the application.
From a technical point of view, a web application is identified as PWA if the following 3 criteria are met:
  • A connection to the application in HTTPS
  • A web manifest containing information about the application (name, icon, display mode...)
  • A service worker, which is the key element of a PWA. This makes it possible to manage the offline mode and a bad connection by using the browser cache, data synchronization and push notifications.
Although there are different ways to look at PWAs, one thing is sure: they are becoming more popular and developers are choosing this solution more often than ever.

What situation is best for developing a PWA?

Progressive Web Apps answer are suitable in certain cases, such as:
  • The desire to add additional functionality to an existing web application (e.g. adding an offline mode to an Angular or React application).
  • The "quick" development of a specific mobile application.
  • The development of a mobile / multi-platform application in a team of front-end developers (provided that the need covers the functionality requested on the target devices).
They are also appropriate for developing mobile applications without:
  • The constraints of the public store: we can cite Stadia, Epic Games and Amazon Luna (cloud gaming), for example.
  • The status of a corporate store: Mobile Device Management (MDM) being deployed in a large company, for example.
  • The development of a "light" version of an existing mobile application.
Progressive Web Apps are not intended to replace native applications, even if they can be found in stores.

Using PWAs also comes with another great advantage. From the user’s point of view, PWAs makes it possible to replace a few native applications on a phone because the sites are "PWA ready" and are more than enough to ensure comfortable use.

We hope that this article has given you some necessary insight into the most important features of PWAs and the reasons they are worth developing. Be sure to check out more guides and blog articles to get even more information about them and get ready to start your own project!

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