Pure web applications have a lot of advantages over local installed traditional fat client software. Webapps can be used instantly without any installation and there is no need to update them frequently as they are always up to date. They can be accessed by any device that runs a webbrowser – which means today actually from any device.
However, users still prefer native apps because they feel better integrated in the desktop, they can be launched via an icon, they run in their own window and can be used even if the device is offline.
Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) try to combine these two worlds and make web applications behave like local installed software. PWAs are installed by the click of a button in the browser (a simple + symbol in the address bar of Chrome) and basically just place an icon on the user’s desktop, start menu or Launcher (depending on the used operating system). From there on, the PWAs behaves almost as a local app, but maintaining the advantages of seamless updates. In fact, when the app is launched a browser instance is started presenting the PWA in a separate window without any browser controls (no address bar, no menu buttons, etc…). So the app looks like a native app.
But there is more!
- Once loaded, PWAs can run offline, they don’t require a permanent online connection.
- PWAs can leverage the OS notification system to inform the user about any new like incoming messages.
- They can update themselves
PWAs are a very nice way to eliminate the disadvantages of today’s web applications and make them look and feel like native apps. The advantage of being always up to date and the fact that even if the Internet breaks the app is still useable make them a real competitor of fat native client software.