How easy is it to install a Progressive Web App? Just click 'Add'

By: Matt Ludwig
iPhone

It seems like major brands are more and more excited about being able to deploy a Progressive Web App (PWA) with each passing week. The thought being, PWAs bridge the gap between the web apps they all love to build and a native app’s fluid elegance. After all, PWAs allow you to build on a full web stack in the browser, but they feel more special. They also come with what we love so much about the Web - such as constant updating, real hyperlinking, and no app store orphans. PWAs also have the “Best Ofs” as part of the default functionality:

  • Push Notifications
  • Less storage space required
  • ‘Feel’ like a native app
  • Work offline too (or on low-quality networks)!
  • No update-app distribution lag
  • Always have a secure connection
  • Can be easily shared, via URL
  • And finally a Nerd Alert: PWAs come with the W3C identifier as an “application”

Yeah … I know. An ellipsis-worthy list of coolness. There’s also another thing that makes PWAs so great; how easy they are to install! It may sound basic, but ‘installing’ a PWA on a device is even easier than any App Store process. Seriously.

How To Install a PWA

1, Go to the website you want to install (ex: https://staging.hightide.earth) in your mobile browser. (I know! A website!)

  1. Tap the “Add” button on the Add to Home screen banner displayed.
  2. Voilà! All done. Enjoy. The new app will be on your home screen (or in your App tray, depending on the OS version), and already running.

 Super easy to install!

Where do we go from here?

Well, Microsoft has decided to crawl the Web leveraging good old fashioned Search Engine Optimization (this is where that W3C ‘application’ identifier comes into play) and add PWAs to their app store. Google’s slew of tools and protocols giving users the Web as a platform also points in the right direction. Last but certainly not least, Apple has finally committed to adding service worker support to WebKit after being silent on the matter for far too long. So with this short but broadly applying list of initiatives, the answer pretty clearly signals “Onwards and upwards!” from the leaders in scalable web technologies. Until then, we’re forced to find ways around features, like adding to an iOS homescreen.

Users are frustrated with app store search, organization, and overall experience. Users want a brand’s digital experience to be seamless across devices, regardless of the platform powering them. Companies who listen to their customers’ experience, will identify the opportunity to develop for the single publishing point that PWAs offer, and double down. Fighting for App Store visibility will only be a matter of good-old fashioned Search Engine Optimization, and customers will see the zen in an app they don’t need to update. All the while, Customers relish in this ability to finally save any web experience they discover to their device, and with the smallest download imaginable for an ‘instant on’ native-feeling web.

So choose small downloads. Choose secure connections. Choose a great offline experience. Choose push notifications. Choose URLs and native menus. Choose not to choose to update your apps in app stores. Choose to click ‘Add’. Choose great UX. Choose PWAs.

Want to choose a Progressive Web App strategy for your company? Get in touch and let’s talk.