Progressive web applications (PWA) are a type of mobile app delivered through the web, built using common web technologies including HTML, CSS and JavaScript. Functionality includes working offline, push notifications, and device hardware access, enabling creating user experiences similar to native applications on mobile devices. Since they are a type of website known as a web application, there is no requirement for developers or users to install web apps via digital distribution systems like Apple App Store or Google Play.

While web applications have been available for mobile devices for as long as mobile devices have existed, they had generally lagged behind native apps in terms of speed, features, and user adoption, especially on mobile devices. Direct access to hardware and the ability to work offline, previously only available to native apps, allows PWAs to perform much faster and to provide more features in line with native apps.

Characteristics of Progressive web applications
According to Google Developers, the characteristics of a progressive web application are:

Progressive — Works for every user, regardless of browser choice, using progressive enhancement principles.

Responsive — Fits any form factor: desktop, mobile, tablet, or forms yet to emerge.

Connectivity independent — Service workers allow offline uses, or on low-quality networks.

App-like — Feels like an app to the user with app-style interactions and navigation.

Fresh — Always up-to-date due to the service worker update process.

Safe — Served via HTTPS to prevent snooping and ensure content hasn’t been tampered with.

Discoverable — Identifiable as an “application” by manifest.json and service worker registration, and discoverable by search engines.

Re-engageable — Ability to use push notifications to maintain engagement with the user.

Installable — Provides home-screen icons without the use of an App Store.

Linkable — Can easily be shared via a URL, and does not require complex installation.

Why build a Progressive Web App?
Building a high-quality Progressive Web App has incredible benefits, making it easy to delight your users, grow engagement and increase conversions.

Load instantly and never show the downasaur, even in uncertain network conditions.

Respond quickly to user interactions with silky smooth animations and no janky scrolling.

Feel like a natural app on the device, with an immersive user experience.

Worthy of being on the home screen:
When the Progressive Web App criteria are met, Chrome prompts users to add the Progressive Web App to their home screen.

Work reliably, no matter the network conditions:
Service workers enabled Konga to send 63% less data for initial page loads, and 84% less data to complete the first transaction!

Increased engagement:
Web push notifications helped eXtra Electronics increase engagement by 4X. And those users spend twice as much time on the site.

Improved conversions:
The ability to deliver an amazing user experience helped AliExpress improve conversions for new users across all browsers by 104% and on iOS by 82%.

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