In a previous post, I talked about the multiple ways to develop a mobile application. Each option I covered has its pros and cons, but the key takeaway is that there is not one solution that fits everyone’s needs.

Successful mobile application development begins with a strong understanding of business needs prior to determining which technology you will use to solve the problem. If this step isn’t taken, too often companies will end up changing their whole business structure to fit the application rather than building an application that truly meets user needs.

That being said, there is one technology that I tend to not rely on for a company’s mobile application needs and that is “Mobile Web.” Some of the key challenges with using a Mobile Web solution are:

  • Slow performance
  • No offline access
  • No push notification
  • Doesn’t feel like a mobile application

Progressive Web Apps (PWA) is a solution that may provide relief to these problems and provide a possible alternative to hybrid or native application.

So, what is a PWA?

PWA is a new (“Progressive”) format for a web application. It provides the ability to have the application stored (“cached”) locally on a user’s device and provide a home screen launch icon.  When the user clicks on the app icon, it will launch the application locally (offline). The application will look and feel like a mobile application and not a web site. The application will not run in a browser but in an “Application shell,” giving the application a mobile app feel.

Another key benefit of PWA is the ability to bypass the app store for installation. You can easily just email the link to the web site to your user. Once the user clicks on the link, the application will be downloaded and cached on their mobile device. Building a web application is less time consuming than building a mobile application that needs to be published to the store.  This will save you time and money and be able to easily respond to user’s changing needs quickly.

As I said in the beginning, there is not one solution that fits everyone’s needs and that is true of PWA, as well. PWA will not be a fit for all mobile needs, but it’s a tool set that we will keep looking at.

The technology is new, with only Chrome fully supporting PWA today, but Microsoft and Apple are starting to add support for PWA application in Edge and Safari. Once this happens, hopefully in 2018, PWAs can become another option for cross platform mobile solution. Until then, Android is the only device that fully supports PWAs.

At Trilix, we’ll keep watching to see how the industry starts adding more support for PWA and will share with you how that could potentially be a solution we could explore for your unique business challenges down the road.

 

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