The scoop on progressive web apps (PWAs) & EZWxBrief

Updated: Oct 28, 2021

EZWxBrief is optimized to run as a progressive web app (PWA). So if you are not running it as a PWA, then you are not getting the best user experience. What is a progressive web app as compared to a native app you might download from the App Store or Google Play Store?


First of all, notice below on the iPad that there's no back or forward buttons or address bar/bookmarks when using a progressive web app. In fact, it is very hard to tell the difference between the PWA and a native app. Installation of the progressive web app is quite simple and only takes a few seconds to install. So let's look at the advantages of a PWA and how it compares to native apps or basic web applications.


Advantages of PWA

  • Compatibility and Full Responsiveness — They provide basic functionality and content to everyone regardless of browsers you use or connection quality. They can even deliver more sophisticated page versions to users if their newer browsers can support them.

  • Connectivity — Progressive Web Apps don’t require you to depend on a good connection as they can work on low-quality networks and even offline.

  • App-like interface — Companies spend on PWAs over other Apps because they can mimic the navigation and interactions of native apps. Push notifications, for instance, can keep customers interested, motivating them to open and use an app more.

  • Automatic updates — PWAs update themselves automatically, keeping the application experience fresh.

  • Safety — Progressive web apps are considered safe because they’re served through HTTPS, which means unauthorized users can’t access their content.

  • Discoverability and easy installation — Even though search engines classify PWAs as applications, they are not distributed via app stores but through a URL. The installation is simple, and you can add it to a device's home screen.

How are PWAs Different from Other Apps?


We can compare Progressive Web Apps with Responsive Web Apps and Native Apps to better understand how Progressive Web Apps are different.


Purpose

  • Native App — This app is written and optimized for specific mobile OS platforms — Google’s Android or Apple’s iOS.

  • Web App — This app runs on a remote server and is delivered to an end-user via a browser interface.

  • Progressive Web App — This is a website or a series of web pages with app-like features and a user interface.

Installation

  • Native App — This app has to be downloaded and installed on the device by visiting the app store, accepting numerous permissions, and signing in.

  • Web App — This doesn’t require any installation on the device. Instead, you can access them via any browser.

  • Progressive Web App — These don’t require any installation either. However, you need to visit the website and add it to your home screen to launch the app.

Access Requirements

  • Native App — It requires complete access to the device’s features and customizes system settings.

  • Web App — Sometimes, it requires limited access to the device features, maybe geolocation or Bluetooth.

  • Progressive Web App — The requirements for access to your device is there, but it’s limited to a few features.

Connection Dependency

  • Native App — Depends on the app. Some apps require internet access throughout, while others might not even depend on it at all.

  • Web App — This app won’t work without an internet connection.

  • Progressive Web App — This app works with any quality of internet connection and saves some of its functionalities so that you can use them while you’re offline even.

Mozilla's (version 85 of Firefox) has recently decided to abandon support for the PWA, unfortunately. However, PWA remains available in Microsoft Edge, Google Chrome (iMac, Macbook, Windows and Android) and Safari (iPad and iPhone). Google is highly invested in the PWA concept, so it will likely be around for a while. See the EZWxBrief Pilots Guide for information on how to install EZWxBrief as a PWA.

Most pilots are weatherwise, but some are otherwise


Dr. Scott Dennstaedt

Weather Systems Engineer

Founder, EZWxBrief™

CFI & former NWS meteorologist

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