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Dawn of the Progressive Web Application

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Dawn of the Progressive Web Application

“It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change” ~Charles Darwin.

Do you remember when native mobile applications first came meteor-crashing into the scene? Most people couldn’t get enough of them! From amusing virtual lightsabers to far more handy unit converters, back in 2008, it didn’t matter if your program was a star or a dud — if it was on the iPhone, all eyes were on your company. But just as natural selection is so crushingly apparent in nature, in today’s lightning-paced, ever-changing technological world, the ubiquitous native application, long unchallenged, may soon be reaching an untimely demise.

Origins

It all started in 2011, when the Financial Times made the pivotal — and distinctly countercultural — decision to completely do away with their native applications. Instead, they began working on a new breed of web app, taking advantage of some of the very best technologies available at the time. As modern tech caught up with their vision, app.ft.com would quickly evolve into the point of reference it is known as today. In addition to sporting a native-like splash screen and interface, the app can even sync an offline section of its newspaper, so users are able to carry on reading even when reception is no longer available.

Survival of the fittest

Spurred on by this success, so-called progressive web applications (PWAs) have increasingly been seen as a powerful threat to the native status quo. This is largely due to convenience, as instead of relying on an app store for searches and downloads, PWAs may either be viewed on a standard web browser or run from within self-contained shells, via a shortcut on the home screen. As a result, progressive web apps are faster to build a