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Exciting year to be a web developer

Exciting year to be a web developer.

Welcome to 2018, where websites are the new rage. Mind you, we call them webapps and not websites anymore. Every developer is in the race to deliver the fastest first byte. Forbes new mobile site renders in 2.5 seconds, BookMyShow’s web conversion rates up by 80% and OLX has seen 250% more re-engagement on their website. What’s going on in this world wide web? With scary Javascript-CPU-profiler graphs that look like cardiograms of the lochness monster, all is being done to optimize every little bit we send down the wire. With google leading the bandwagon, all devs are set on the path to make the web great again. Oh, did I tell you websites can send notifications? And yes, offline websites are a thing now.

App craze of 201X

Let’s go back to 2010, the rise of the smartphone pandemic. Thanks to iPhones & cheap android phones, you could find every second person using a smartphone. Every second guy was shooting angry birds or being a fruit ninja, whatsapp was becoming the goto communication channel and people were actually paying to download an app. All of a sudden every company wanted to have an app. But why?

Offline access: Since apps are download-once-use-forever, once downloaded a user can access them just on tap.
Re-targeting by notifications: You can make your users come back to the app by sending them notifications, relevant product information to capture their attention.
Native features: A native app has compatibility with a devices’ hardware and features like camera, location, sensors, file system etc.
Better performance: Since apps have access to device hardware and they have freedom of design, apps are supposed have a better performance and speed.

The problem with mobile apps

Low new app downloads: Majority of smartphone users do not download new apps. Consumers spend 80% of their time on these 5 apps. Top 10 heavily used apps are owned by facebook & google.

new app downloads

Barrier to entry: Getting a user to download an app, spend time and data for the download and then getting to use it is a big barrier in app acquisition.
Apps are storage intensive: With most iphones users running out of space frequently and cheap android phones with low storage capabilities, downloading and keeping an app is a tough choice for a lot of users in developing countries.

Where web wins:

The world wide web has been the go-to source for our information consumption since the advent of internet. Let us check out why web still exists and wins:

Discoverability: You search something on google and bam! you’ve a list of websites you never knew existed. Its easy for you to discover new content on web and the websites to be discovered.
Broader Reach And Instant Access: From low-end feature phones to shiny iphones, each one of them has a browser in it. Hit a URL and voila, you’ve the content to you in a matter of seconds irrespective of the device config.
Shareability: Even when native apps need to share something over the web they need a web URL. URLs are the best way to point someone to a source.
Development: A website doesn’t need to be developed differently for every other OS or device. Its awrite-once-run-everywhere thing.
Updates & maintenance: You can update your webapp multiple times a day but updating an app frequently? Boy your users are going to be so pissed.


The Solution? Progressive Web Apps :

What if you marry all the goodness of the web with features that native apps provide? You get progressive web apps. Let’s see what all Progressive Webapps can do.

Installable: With just a tap, your website gets installed in the phone and added to the homescreen just like a native app.
Notification goodness: You can send push notifications, just like native apps can.
Offline: Using offline cache APIs your installed webapp can function offline as well.
Updates are a bliss: You just update the website on your server and the app cache will gracefully update itself without the user noticing. As many updates as you want without the user noticing it.
Progressive: Though the support for PWA is increasing rapidly, there may be some browser not supporting all the APIs. In such cases your PWA will function just like any other website. So, no more support issues. Support everything.

What the future holds:

It is clear that the next generation of webapps a.k.a Progressive Webapps are going to be an obvious standard in a few years. With growing browser support and user education users will expect websites to be PWAs. These are the exciting things coming up in PWAs :

  • Install PWAs on your computer from windows store. Microsoft has promised to bring PWAs to edge and then PWAs can be added to the windows store which users can download on their computers. Isn’t that terrific?
  • Firefox for android, adds support for progressive web apps.
  • Apple added support for service workers in Safari Tech preview. ( Good things coming )
  • Tinder launched its PWA. So did Twitter, Uber, Pinterest, Google Maps and many other big players. Also, you are reading this on a blazing fast PWA right now, try adding it to the homescreen. ;)

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Top comments (9)

ben profile image
Ben Halpern

Tinder launched its PWA. So did, Uber, Pinterest, Google Maps and many more big players.

So did! Wait, are we not a big player? 😢

bytegasm profile image
Bytegasm! • Edited

Haha, is hands down one of the most performant websites out there.
Everytime I hit a slow mobile network, I test on it. 😂

rotimibest profile image
Ibitoye Rotimi Best

Yh. I am currently using your PWA. I love it.

pratikaambani profile image
Pratik Ambani

Almost there, Ben!!!

olaldennis profile image

Opera mobile features makes it hard to support PWA's. To me it makes sense abit to detect and not run your PWA on opera mini browser because it will be rendered poorly by the browser. To support PWA's we need also to sacrifice support of some browsers that don't really embrace PWA. I once accessed from opera mini mobile browser and it is really a mess. It will be better if you stop supporting such browsers entirely for PWA to flourish

bytegasm profile image

Agreed completely. I remember when once on a project we had to stop supporting opera browser & UC browser. And developing countries UC+opera make up to more user-base than google chrome.

mellen profile image
Matt Ellen

How does one charge for a PWA? Or is the only revenue model advertising?

nathanheffley profile image
Nathan Heffley

Apple is starting to implement Service Workers. I'm on mobile and don't have the link but maybe someone else does?

bytegasm profile image

Yes, there is support for service workers is Safari Tech Preview 38 and work on Web App manifest is under development.