Progressive Web App Tech in Focus

Progressive Web apps (PWAs) are poised to be quite the disruptive force in mobile. 

Website Magazine covered the trend toward the use of PWAs in its upcoming June 2017 issue and highlighted what makes the technology so interesting.

PWAs are essentially mobile websites that offer features and functions similar to those of native mobile apps. They may include features like push notifications and are "installable" for easy access via a device's homescreen. They offer many benefits over traditional native apps, including being lightweight and requiring less data to operate, which makes them ideal for a number of situations. 

While adoption has been somewhat slow from the developer side (the technology has only been around for one year at this point) there are some rather interesting PWAs that are already worth a look. 

Indian e-taxi service Ola, for example, recently announced that it has released a PWA. The company's product consumes a very small amount of data on the first payload (50kb) and even less 10kb on subsequent loads. The Ola app is designed to work on 2G networks while also supporting offline bookings and even integrates with Ola's other services - including Ola Money, to enable payments - and offers maps and an offline booking feature, all of which make it ideal for the community it services.

And still there are others. Voot, Viacom18's (a joint venture between Viacom and Mumbai-based Network 18 Group) ad-supported Video-On-Demand OTT service, has also released a progressive Web app that caters to the Indian market. VOOT launched its new UI first on mobile Web, ahead of desktop Web and native app, in fact, and within days of launch, video watch time on mobile Web jumped over 39 percent.

Developing a PWA has its own set of challenges of course, but there are, fortunately, a few providers that are working to enable their own clients to release customized progressive Web apps. NetWaiter (a provider of marketing and development solutions for restaurants), for example, is now enabling their restaurant customers to develop their own PWAs. 

While it may appear that PWAs are best suited to edgy startups alone, even industry stalwarts are heeding the call. 

Forbes, for example, recently announced it was releasing a mobile site that is a progressive Web app. Forbes is using the opportunity not only to speed up its digital experience, but to innovate as well. The publisher is releasing a new story format called Carts (modeled after Snapchat Stories) as well as a new mobile advertising format called Fluid which is also meant to load quickly. 

It is still very, very early in the lifecycle of the progressive Web app trend but excitement is most definitely building. Website Magazine will continue to keep tabs on the trend, but encourages 'Net professionals like you to share their experience and their favorite PWAs with a comment below.