With two major developer conferences just behind us it’s worth reviewing where we are with PWAs.
Microsoft added further momentum to PWAs at Build 2018 by detailing just how rich the support for PWAs will be. They aren’t doing this in half measures:
- A dedicated installation shortcurt from the Edge address bar
- Optional chromeless mode
- Standalone window
- Appearance in “app” contexts such as the Windows Start menu and Cortana search results
- Apps meeting certain criteria will be auto-indexed by Bing and added to the Windows app store
Google brought further good news on this front during their The web: state of the union presentation at I/O 2018 with some case studies and metrics. And Google aren’t just talking about it, they are leading by example: there are PWA versions of Maps, Gmail and Photos already (in addition to google.com).
So, let’s quickly recap where we are with PWAs:
- Every major platform is covered, both mobile and desktop
- They offer rich app-like functionality such as offline support and push notifications
For the first time ever, there is now an application runtime that is supported on all major desktop and mobile operating systems. The addition of Windows 10 brings an additional 700 million active monthly addressable users on top of the existing 2 billion Android devices and 1.3 billion iOS devices. PWAs are also a natural fit with Google’s new .app top-level domain.
The net effect is that app developers would be crazy to not consider leading with a PWA instead of a native app. And, sure enough, the major major brands are taking note. Starbucks has now ditched its native app functionality altogether in favour of a PWA (app.starbucks.com); Instagram launched a PWA (on instagram.com) to increase their reach. A Spotify PWA is coming soon. Starbuck’s PWA doubled daily active users on their site; Instagram’s boosts 2x better retention compared to their existing site. The average conversion boost of converting a site to a PWA is reportedly 20%.
Let’s not forget that PWAs are by definition progressive so even if a platform doesn’t support PWA features they will still function as a standard web application. As Google’s Tal Oppenheimer said, PWAs are the biggest advance to the web platform in a decade.
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