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Features and limitations of progressive web apps in iOS.

Author: Hemendra Singh
by Hemendra Singh
Posted: Jan 04, 2019
progressive web

Ali express, Flipkart Lite, Forbes, Twitter Lite are some of the most popular progressive web apps.

In this article, we are going to learn about progressive web apps on iOS. Let us first see what progressive web apps are.

What are PWAs?

What was the need for PWAs?

When were these apps innovated?

Why app developers should focus on the PWAs?

The PWAs were introduced by Google to make web a better world for app users.

On an average, a smartphone user has more than 80 apps. That is a huge number. All smartphone manufacturers are bringing next level smart boxes with greater memories.

Some of the apps are e-commerce based, some are for entertainment, some are games, some are work-related, etc. as the type of apps can be uncertain, the importance of app can also be uncertain.

A maximum number of smartphone users face a common problem of storage. The internal storage of all smartphones gets full with so many amazing apps. What to do if your storage capacity is full and you need to use an app? Deleting existing apps is a pain! Progressive web apps are amazing in such situations.

PWAs are not exactly mobile applications. The native applications in our smartphones are full of amazing features and benefits. But when we access the same through the browser, the user experience is not the same. App developers take care of all minute things while developing. The user can have an amazing experience while accessing native apps. Those features used to lack in web apps. Progressive web apps give just the exact look and feel like native apps.

The PWAs are designed in an exclusive way to offer the feel of native apps. Not only this, developers and designers make sure that the PWA function the same. The progressive web apps offer offline capabilities. When users do not have access to the internet, they can still use the progressive web apps up to a certain level. This is an amazing innovation. Using browser in offline mode was not possible previously. The PWAs also send push notifications. Push notifications are very important as apps can inform users about the latest offers, order updates, drops in prices, transaction-related notifications, new updates, etc. When a user installs the progressive web app, he or she is asked about notifications. If the user says yes to the notification, the PWA starts sending them just like native apps. PWA used background synchronization to create shortcuts to the home screens of phones. The user can decide the name of the app. The user can even edit the logo! With all these small amazing features, the biggest benefit of PWAs is that you can access them from any phone.

As you need not download it from any sort of application store, you can access it from any smartphone with the same ease.

Whatever we have written above is related to progressive web apps in general. As mentioned, the PWAs are introduced to the world by Google.

What about iOS development? Apple being one of the most successful companies, cannot miss the importance of progressive web apps.

The PWAs are live on iOS new version 11.3. This release includes safari browser 11.1. The Safari browser 11.1 supports service workers. Service workers allow progressive web apps to run javascript in the background for offline mode. This feature is yet not introduced in apple. However, the user can download up to 50 MB data in offline mode. Apple uses three components to display web content. One is chrome or firefox (web view). Another is web.app. Web.app displays apps in the home screen. The third one is the safari view controller. As all three work separately without sharing service workers or cache, the user receives several copies of the same progressive web app. In Android, the app shortcut on the home screen stays as long as you want. But in iOS, the PWA files are freed up if the user does not use the app for a long time. Though the icon remains there, the app needs to be redownloaded for access.

Some features that native apps have but iOS PWAs does not are Face ID, Bluetooth, Touch ID, serial, Beacons, ARKit, altimeter sensor, battery information, etc. in android, the user can track how much battery is consumed by the progressive web app.

Apple has always taken huge care of security. It is a well-known fact that when it comes to security, iOS development is way ahead than others. Mobile app developers experience big changes in the coding when it comes to developing the app for Android and iOS. But progressive web apps are not published on the app store. Developers need not deploy it on the app store. Hence, there are chances of bugs, scams, etc. Hence, there is no access to private information like contact details, location details, etc. There is no access to native apps present in the smartphones.

Progressive web apps on iOS can access sensors like Magnetometer, Accelerometer, and Gyroscope. It also has access to the camera, audio output and apple pay. The biggest disappointment is that there are no push notifications. As we know every app development list must include push notification feature. But Apple has not yet offered this feature with progressive web apps. You can install the PWA in iOS by manually going to the PWA URL and sharing it on the home screen. The PWA does not indicate that it is a PWA.

The PWAs are new for iOS. As we know, Apple brings something extraordinary with every new update in OS version, we can certainly expect a lot more advancements in PWAs next time.

Conclusion Apple has the highest share of revenue from apps. Introducing progressive web apps in the iOS can certainly damage the revenue. This might be the reason PWAs in iOS development has so many limitations.

About the Author

My name is Hemendra Singh. I am Managing Director and Co-Founder of The NineHertz, a Mobile App Development Company. My ideology is that, a clear vision and hard work builds a great company.

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Author: Hemendra Singh
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Hemendra Singh

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Member since: May 29, 2018
Total live articles: 51

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