The Story of Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) is now playing out at the frontier of two worlds, inside your smartphone.
Once upon a time, inside your smartphone, the worlds of Web browsers and mobile apps were very different. It never really bothered you. It was just like that, and you went along with it.
The app world
In the app world, you got your apps from the AppStore or Google Play. You downloaded them, and they sat on your phone’s home screen. They were good-looking and intuitive and well designed for your tiny little screen. Some features you could use offline. Mostly, you would download the ones with the well-known names, like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Amazon, Your-Bank’s-Name-Here. Then, as you added them, they took up more and more of your phone’s memory. But they helped you stay connected to your friends 24/7 (if you wanted) and made you look busy when you were just goofing off. Pretty cool.
The web browser world
In the browser world, it was different. A browser could take you anywhere on the internet, provided you did a search or entered a URL. It’s hard to compete with the likes of Facebook and Google because people rarely install 3rd party apps, so a web application was often the best way to reach a broader audience. Web apps had obvious pitfalls though. For starters, they didn’t work offline. They couldn’t interact much with the device when was turned off.
Well, you know developers. Just can’t leave things alone. So the idea came about to combine some of the features of each of these worlds and come up with something different. And that’s where Progressive Web Apps come from.
Progressive Web Apps, or somewhere in between
Simply put Progressive Web Apps or PWA’s for short, combine the functionality of a web browser, augmented with the advantages of a native app. For example, you won’t see the url bar or a browser “back” button in a PWA. But, you will be able to quickly get to and navigate a website with it. In fact, it’s like a shortcut to your favorite website, while being much more than that. It allows developers to cherry pick native mobile feature and “Progressively” implement them to a web app.
First of all, it allows you to install an icon on your mobile device’s home screen as the starting point to open your application. By doing so, you also get rid of the browser URL bar and navigation icons, so it feels like you’re inside a full-screen app.
An installed PWA can communicate with the device even when it’s turned off, so your users can receive push notifications.
It also caches the shell of your application and allows you to use it offline, as long as you’ve fetched the information previously. It can also access your phone’s features such as the GPS or the camera.
I’ll be presenting on PWA at Kscope18
I find this very exciting and you can bet that more and more developers will be using this technology to turn your phone and the browser into a truly seamless experience.
In the meantime, if you’d like to know more about Progressive Web Apps, I’ll be presenting at Kscope18 on the subject. Oracle Application Express is a tool well suited to Progressive Web App development and I’ll provide a demo application so that you can try it yourself. I look forward to telling you about it. See you soon.
Turning APEX into a Progressive Web App (PWA) – By Vincent Morneau
Presenter: Vincent Morneau, Insum Solutions
When: June 11, 2018, Session 2, 1:15 PM – 2:15 PM
Room: Asia 1, Lobby/Third Level
Topic: Application Express – Subtopic: Other Application Express
Learn more about Oracle Application Express (APEX).