Maximiliano Firtman has a great post that discusses the current state of play of Progressive Web Apps (aka PWAs). For me the stand outs are:
- iOS hides the “Add to Homescreen” option within the Share extension
- On iOS the ability to Add to homescreen isn’t available when using Edge or Chrome, despite the Share extension being a common across applications.
- Lack of push notifications is a major annoyance from a user perspective – After installing iOS 11.3 I went and added the PWA version of Twitter (just go to https://mobile.twitter.com and add to homescreen). The app works great but the lack of any form of notifications is just crippling and means I now miss messages until I get prompted to go into the Twitter app. This alone is a reason for me to install the store version of the app.
- PWAs still only get a limited cache, with no option to extend it with user consent, which is hardly enough to cache the static resources for a good responsive website, let alone provide offline data access
- Windows support is still via an app coming from the store
The upshot of this is that whilst Google is doing a great job in advocating for PWAs, the reality is that they’re still not ready for the prime time.
Every day there are new technologies emerging; there are new frameworks available; there are new scenarios and devices to build for, so it becomes difficult as product owners, as developers, as technologists, to work out where to focus our attention. As we discussed in a recent article on App – Fomo before you jump into looking at technology it’s important to decide whether an app is even something you want to build. The true value of PWAs is that they are starting to bridge the cap between what the web can do today and the benefits offered by applications delivered by a store (eg place on the home screen, offline, push notifications). This in turn will ease make it easier to determine whether you truly need an app, or whether a modern responsive website (aka a PWA) will suffice.