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Someone that apparently works on Safari at Apple, posted some interesting comments about progressive web app features on Jan 24.

https://twitter.com/rmondello/status/956256845311590400

"iOS 11.3 and macOS 10.13.4 include Service Workers — a powerful specification that allows background scripts to power offline web applications. iOS 11.3 also consults Web App Manifest when adding web apps to the home screen."

"Web apps saved to the home screen and web pages in SFSafariViewController can now use the camera to capture images!"

I'm hoping Apple finds that PWAs can actually start replacing native apps in 2018. Now that smartphones have so much extra processing and memory capacity. There doesn't appear to be any technical reason PWAs couldn't become the primary way that users install apps, with native apps being a rare necessity.




> Now that smartphones have so much extra processing and memory capacity.

Not saying that PWAs are necessarily less efficient, but this isn’t a good reason for doing anything on mobile as more power usage = shorter battery life, which is still one of the main issues with today’s smartphones


I think it would be awesome to see a version of, say, iOS 3 compiled to run on modern iPhone HW and see how long the battery life would be.


That would take a ton of work to make it all 64bit safe again. Basically redoing iOS 7.


Engineering is largely about making trade offs. Battery life is just one (very important) variable for smartphones.

PWAs are generally going to be less efficient than native apps because they're just web apps running in Safari.

This performance penalty explains why PWAs couldn't replace native apps in the past. It would have hurt the user experience. But now that smartphones are so much more powerful, we should be able to take advantage of PWAs.


There are lots of technical and non technical reasons to prefer native apps, but most of them boil down to a simple thing: better user experience. So sad to see that “I only have a hammer, let’s approach eveything as a nail” attitude getting so prevalent. “I only know react, lets misuse already misused web tech even more”.


Here's a solid technical / user-experience reason to prefer PWAs: people can fork them and install them on their devices without needing a Mac and a developer account. That is, if you want your app to meaningfully be free software and have all the associated technical benefits, or if you want the option for someone who's better than UX to do it to fork it with low friction, PWAs are significantly better.


+ :

- "Here, i present you my simple mobile app that adds value" : URL => exchange of value

vs

- submit to OS verification => "Here, i present you my simple mobile app that adds value" : URL to OS app/play store => explicit download + build => exchange of value


Billions of people install apps without the Mac or developer account. This devloper-centric view is why we cannot have nice things. Stop for once thinking how to make life easier for the developer, start to think about the end users.


I am thinking about the end users. I am thinking that they should not be held hostage to the tiny number of app developers out there. If an end user has a problem with their app today, they don't have any choice but to throw themselves on the mercy of the developer, or upon the vain hope that other developers will come up with a competing app. If they have a problem with a PWA, they, or more likely their friend or their friend's kid in middle school who's learning HTML, can fix it.

Saying "Your app comes in a compiled and encrypted format, it's illegal to decompile it, and anyone making a competing app needs a Mac and $99" is the way to make life easier for the developer.


>I'm hoping Apple finds that PWAs can actually start replacing native apps in 2018.

Funny; what once was old is new again.

Back in 2007 when there was no App Store, and everything was a web app I wrote one of the first non-Apple weather apps for the iPhone, in conjunction with a local TV station.

It had streaming audio from a real meteorologist to accompany the weather graphics and animated radar. This was a big deal back then. Today... notsomuch.


It's not obvious how to install a PWA in iOS 11.3.

You have to open the URL in Safari and use the Share menu to find "Add to Home Screen."


"Add to Home Screen" isn't new, it's how links to web pages have been added as icons for a long time. That's why the <head>s of some sites links to icons just for display alongside iOS native apps.

Support for the technologies PWAs use will change what the sites can do.




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