Native-like Performance and User Experience with Progressive Web Apps

University essay from KTH/Skolan för elektroteknik och datavetenskap (EECS)

Author: Viktor Yberg; [2018]

Keywords: Progressive Web Apps; PWA;

Abstract: Users spend more time than ever on mobile devices like smartphones and tablets, while native app development continues to become harder due to platform fragmentation. The web is a promising platform for mobile applications because of its easy access and standardised technologies that work unanimously across many different platforms and operating systems. However, native applications have always had an edge over the web because of important features that have not been available anywhere else, such as push notifications, background synchronisation and offline support. Progressive Web Apps aim to bring the web platform closer to native by enabling many of these important features while still running completely in the web browser, with the possibility to install the application, effectively promoting it to a top-level application. This project will evaluate the capabilities of web-based mobile applications compared to traditional native mobile applications. Three simple proof of concept applications will be built to test the performance and user experience with the help of different JavaScript libraries and techniques for building a Progressive Web App. Then one of the implementations will be further developed and matched against an existing native application with similar features in terms of functionality and performance. The study finds that for this use case, a Progressive Web App may be used instead of a native app without missing out on any important functionality. This simplifies development and releases, by enabling rich code sharing between the different platforms as well as avoiding the app distribution platforms by distributing the application entirely through the web, automatic and transparent to the users. However, this solution means more responsibility in terms of infrastructure for developers to maintain and optimise as the application needs to be distributed by own servers.

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