We’ve been talking a lot about Progressive Web Apps—web apps built using modern standardized web APIs like service workers, web manifest, and web push, that provide an app-like experience delivered through the browser. Maybe you’ve built a few yourself by now. Progressive Web Apps have certain important advantages over native apps, especially for the next billion users who will come online in the near future. Let’s talk about those advantages and why they’re crucial to those users’ mobile experience.
The New Mobile Environment
Before we talk about the advantages of PWAs, it’s important to understand how the modern mobile environment differs from the environment we’re used to developing for. As more users are able to access the internet from mobile devices in developing countries, we need to be prepared to build apps that work just as well for them as they do for someone in San Francisco with an iPhone 7.
First, these users’ connectivity is mainly going to consist of 2G and 3G networks that are spotty at best, or almost completely absent at worst. Second, the devices these users are going to be using will on average have 1 to 2GB of ram, a slow quad core cpu, and 4GB of disk storage, and will be running Android 5.0 and higher. Third, mobile data is incredibly expensive in these developing countries. As of 2016, the average cost of 1GB of mobile data in India is $3.81, while the minimum wage rate is around 31 cents an hour. This is clearly a challenging environment, but with PWAs, we can still build awesome apps that provide a great user experience.