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Is PWA still relevant in 2022?. Progressive Web App or commonly… | by Annas Adharuqudni | tiket.com | Jul, 2022

Progressive Web App or commonly referred to as PWA is a website which functions and is perceived as an application on mobile devices. Now, the question we need to consider is, does PWA still relevant in 2022?

Photo by Kenny Eliason on Unsplash

The idea of PWA emerged from Steve Jobs’ vision back in 2007 to bring ordinary web applications to have similar behaviour as applications on iPhone (Apple’s smartphone). The concept of PWA itself manifested in 2015, spearheaded by Google and become a trending search in 2016, even until today.

According to StackSource in 2022, mobile phone sales are increasing when compared to desktop or tablet users. PWA could be a promising solution to take this opportunity.

Over the years, PWA has improved quite significantly compared to when it was initially released by Google. In the beginning, PWA is only available on Chrome OS and Android; nowadays, PWA-based applications are also available on Microsoft Store.

According to Microsoft news, starting in May 2022, the PWA-based application will allow users to download content for offline consumption. This would enable learners to consume content even in low/no connectivity scenarios.

A partnership between Microsoft and Google also introduces several interesting developments on PWA, such as PWABuilder (Microsoft’s development tool that makes writing PWAs easier) and Bubblewrap (Google’s technology which helps developers to package their apps for distribution on the Google Play app store).

Some advantages of using PWA

  1. In terms of security, PWA is taking advantage of the HTTPS protocol.
  2. As PWA comes from a website, it has a direct connection to SEO (Search Engine Optimization). As the SEO trend in 2022 is increasing, it is also good for business.
  3. PWA can be accessed offline, this feature is managed by a service worker.

Apart from the advantages, there are some limitations of PWA:

  1. Limited access on mobile devices, as PWA runs on the web.
  2. In terms of performance, when compared to native apps, PWA is considered slower.
  3. because PWA is inseparable from the web approach, it is also vulnerable to well-known web attacks, such as attacks on manifest.js and on service workers.

There are some notable tech companies which heavily utilize PWA, namely:

  1. Tinder; the implementation of PWA in Tinder can reduce load time and storage usage, as PWA in general doesn’t require SDK as native apps do.
  2. Trivago; their level of interaction and engagement has increased significantly as many users save their applications on the home screen.
  3. OLX; their level of interaction, engagement, and load time increases due to push-up notifications.

Apart from the native apps, there are several contenders for PWA, namely hybrid frameworks such as IonicJS, Cordova, React Native, and Flutter.

PWA vs IonicJS

IonicJS is a cross-platform UI and theme library. Initially, it only supports AngularJS, but now it has compatibility with many other frameworks. IonicJS has limitations on customization and is not recommended for use in building complex applications. On the other hand, PWA is highly customizable, it can be attached anywhere and offers a wide range of design options.

PWA vs Flutter

In terms of capability, PWA is able to build a complex application, as it is based on Javascript. In contrast, Flutter is based on a new language (Dart). In order to build a complex Flutter application, several widgets are required. This could end up with a large widget tree and maintaining such an application would be harder. However, in terms of performance, the Flutter-based application is relatively faster as it has a similar approach to native apps. On the contrary, a PWA-based application is running on a third-party browser, which affects latency and battery life.

In my opinion, the decision of building a PWA-based application should consider several factors. PWA could be a good option when we aim for a low-cost and fast mobile application based on an existing website. In this case, building a PWA-based application only requires a little configuration on a responsive website. However, if we aim to build a mobile app from scratch, IonicJS and Flutter would be a better option, as they offer more features and some access capabilities which are not available on PWA.

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