Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Common Misconceptions About PWAs: Apple Isn’t On Board

With the introduction and development of Progressive Web Apps (PWAs), there has been a lot of chatter around the fact that iOS–the software behind your favorite Apple products–will not support the full functionality of PWAs. While, yes, it’s true that iOS doesn’t currently support every technical tenant that makes a PWA a PWA, that doesn’t mean they won’t play nicely with one another. So, for the ninety million of you using iPhones, let me reassure you that big changes are on the horizon for iOS+PWAs, but you won’t have to wait another second to see that PWAs work beautifully on Apple products.

Service Workers Are Coming
Service workers are the reason that PWAs aren’t fully supported on iOS, but what exactly is a service worker? They’re one of the key technical elements that make a PWA a PWA which allows for push notifications, background sync, and offline capabilities via browser caching. Now how do we know they’re coming? We’ve been keeping an eye on the development via Apple developer Brady Eidson’s twitter–and are on the lookout for updates and solidified release dates. While I mentioned that service workers are one of the key technical elements that make a PWA a PWA, Apple’s inability to support them at the moment doesn’t mean they don’t work.

…But In the Meantime, iOS and PWAs Still Play Nice
Even without service workers fully implemented, PWAs on iPhones will still look like the PWAs you see on Android. There are small differences–for example, you won’t be prompted to install to the homescreen quite yet –but overall a PWA will absolutely work on your iPhone. Don’t believe me? Grab your iPhone and check out some of our favorite PWAs for yourself. Not only are PWAs working on Apple devices, companies are also seeing great returns from PWAs on iOS. The Weather Channel experimented with their new PWA globally and saw an 80 percent faster load time–meaning fewer people will close it if it doesn’t load quickly enough. AliExpress had an increase of 82 percent on iOS conversion after releasing their PWA–a startling result for something that “won’t work on iOS”, and the Washington Post has recently developed a PWA that saw nearly five times the user engagement of its native counterpart.

Don’t let the iOS argument scare you, PWAs are awesome for both users and companies, even on the iPhone. We know there are a lot of misconceptions out there about PWAs, which is why we’re continuing this series on our blog. Check out part one of our Common Misconceptions About PWAs series here to learn more about why the technology most definitely isn’t too new, and stay tuned for the next installment in the series coming soon.