Progressive Web Apps: What are they

Are there any Progressive Web Apps fans here?

What do you think about the approach? Is it really the future of web?

I’m a big fan of PWA’s and their potential. I see the future of the web becoming more and more like an “application delivery platform”. One of the main driving forces behind the push will be Chromebooks (and thus Google). The reason for this is because Chromebooks have the following:

  • Cheap
  • Relies on the internet (as does most thing)
  • Chrome Apps have been deprecated, in favor of PWAs
  • Chromebooks can run Android apps
  • Can’t run Electron apps without Linux support
  • Tons of people use them for school, and thus will be more inclined to use them for work or home use in the future then not.

A perfect scenario is PWAs work for ChromeOS the same way they work for Windows, Linux, MacOs and even Android and IOS. At that point your talking about an application that works on every platform from 1 build, using the same APIs, using the exact same code. That sounds like the future to me.

Obviously native will always be faster, and PWAs wont work for all use-cases, but it will work for a lot of use cases. It will become more popular not because its the best, but because its the most accessible.

PS. Did you know Twitter provides their app as a PWA? Its basically the same as the native app, but uses only PWA and is smaller then the full app. Its a great example of how even a super popular app could be a PWA and still work just as well.

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I’m confused: what exactly is a Progressive Web App? Is it basically just an app that runs in the browser, rather than having to download the app (on your phone, for example)?

Actually, the main criterion of a PWA is that you do download and “install” the app, but that it’s installable via the browser via any web source, not limited to an app store or an OS installer (though nothing precludes using those as well). So about the only thing you’re outright required to do is add a Web App Manifest.

The rest of it boils down to two criteria:

  • It needs to be a web app, not native. Being 100% cross-platform isn’t outright required, because some apps might have specialized functions, but it must otherwise be portable.
  • It needs to “feel like a real app”, not just a web page.

Basically it’s a marketing term from Google that’s been picked up by other browser makers to describe installable “standalone” web apps. To be installable on Chrome and Chromebooks however, there’s several other criteria that need to be met, which you can see here: (look for “Progressive Web App” on the left). Not all of these are testable “hard” criteria, but some are (it’ll refuse to install or run anything not served over https for example)

Google’s is probably the best place to learn more about writing PWA’s.


Awesome, thanks for the info!