The term PWA or Progressive Web apps isn’t something new to the internet. It was first introduced by Google in 2015, to supercharge web apps to make them behave just like native apps. Imagine an app that is built on web technologies but does act and feels like a proper app and that’s your Progressive Web App. Now, what does that means? It means you don’t require to install an app from your app store. But unlike web apps, Progressive Web Apps runs inside their instance, which looks and feels like a native app. Any website that supports PWA will give you a prompt to install it as a Progressive Web App when you visit the site.
As folks at web.dev rightly said, ‘Progressive Web Apps are websites that took all the right vitamins.‘ Even though PWAs exists since 2015, they are yet to be popularized among general user. And I am sure if you stumbled upon this article, you might be thinking where I can find these progressive web apps? But before that let us see what are the benefit of PWAs.
Why Progressive Web Apps?
Yes, Progressive Web Apps are cool and all, but the real question is why do they exist? Are they solving any real purpose over native apps that you install from an app store? Well, there is, and before looking at some of the best progressive web apps you can try, let us have a look at those reasons.
1. No dependency on the native app store:
Ask an app developer the process of getting their app approved on any of the app stores. Everyone has their horror stores related to this. You can take the example of the recent fight between EPIC Games and Apple. Since PWAs work on web technologies, they can run directly within a browser, hence they are not subjected to the bureaucracy of these app stores.
2. Very easy to develop:
Anyone with basic web development knowledge can easily make a progressive web app. Since it works on web technologies, they are easy to maintain and with better cross-platform compatibility. That means one PWA will work across all platforms without any hassle. Whether it’s on desktop or mobile, you will get a similar experience on either of the platforms.
3. Works on a variety of devices:
At times, the developer may pull support for native apps. This means you can no longer install these native apps on an older version of your OS. However, with PWAs, there is no such limitation. They will work on your device regarding the operating system version.
4. No need to keep track of app updates:
Updates are annoying and eat up a lot of data regularly. With a PWAs, you don’t have to worry about updates anymore. A Progressive Web App will automatically update its resources in the background as soon as you are connected to the internet.
5. Ease of Access:
You just need a link to access a PWA. It cuts down all the hassle that is involved in installing a native app. You either use a PWA directly inside the browser or simply install it on your device and you are good to go
Best Progressive Web Apps that you can try:
There are a plethora of web apps to install on your device. From utility to games, from shopping to dating, PWAs exists in all the categories. Let us have a look at what are some of the best progressive web apps that you can try for yourself.
A beautiful progressive web app for the Sudoku game. It comes with 3 different difficulty levels to choose from, choose your level, and start playing.
2. Tic Tac Toe
You no longer have to waste back pages of your notebook to play Tic Tac Toe with yourself. Just open this progressive web app and beat the system as much as you can. The only caveat is that you can’t choose your opponent, it is between you and the app’s system.
Remember that snake game where you have to continuously feed that little snake without hitting the wall. Well, Snake is a progressive web app of that same game. Use the bottom part of the game to navigate your snake using up, down, right, and left gestures and keep feeding that hungry snake.
The class Tetris game as a progressive web app. Your finger is your control here. Swipe down to move the block instantly, swipe up to rotate it, and swipe left/right to change its position. Your end goal here to stop block building from rising and fill the whole room.
Doodle Cricket is a fun cricket game progressive web app that might not be as tactile as the real game is, but you can play it to kill your time. Don’t expect too much from this game.
TOOLS AND UTILITIES:
SanpDrop is a ShareIt/ShareMi like progressive web app that you can use to transfer files between two devices over wifi. Has no adds, works instantly. You can even send a text to another person using SnapDrop on the same network. And the best part is that it’s ad-free.
CrossNote is a markdown based text editor with some advanced text editor functionality, which works offline as well. However, the app is still in beta but still works well as a web-based editor. You can also add VS code functionality using an extension. If you want to sync notes across multiple devices, you can simply log in with your Github account.
Yes, everyone has a calculator app on their device but if you are someone who wants to do some advanced calculations, Multicalc might be it. Other than doing basic calculation stuff. You can also create a 2D plot graph within the PWA, not something you can do in your default calculator app, right?
Calendo is an all in one calendar progressive web app that you can use to track your events and appointments. You can also add items to your to-do list and group them to their specific domain. As soon as you open your Calendo PWA you will see everything right away so that you don’t miss anything planned. Yes, there is a dark mode toggle as well inside settings.
Just a fun freeform drawing progressive web app, where you can show off your amazing drawing skills. Just login with your Google account and you are good to go. You can start by drawing on the blank canvas or import a picture and start doodling on it. It also supports layers function for a non-destructive workflow and lets you export your artwork as an image for external sharing.
MConverter is an online file converter that you can use to convert a variety of file formats for free and securely. It supports multiple files and can convert files size up to 500GB. This is a must-have progressive app to have on your device for those random file conversion you might need. And on top of it, this converter PWA is baked into the Android’s share sheet, allowing the user to convert a file from the gallery or files manager directly. Simply open and share the file to MConverter, then it will ask you to choose from the list of available format, just choose one and hit convert.
7. Shrink Me
Shrink Me is a nifty tool that you can use to compress or shrink image files. Just drag and drop the image and let the app do the rest of it magically. It works offline so be assured that no data is being uploaded to a 3rd party servers.
Level is a spirit level measuring tool in form of a progressive web app that uses your smartphone’s gyroscope and accelerometer to check the levels. It works offline as well.
Atom is a nifty progressive web app for students who are still struggling with learning the periodic table. It is a PWA that lets you access the periodic table on your device. It also has practice sessions, so that you can continuously challenge yourself about how well you know the periodic table.
Picular is a must-have progressive web app for designers looking for color inspirations. Simply type in the name of an object and this app will present you all the possible colors associated with that object. All the color palettes will have the color code with the image from which the color was picked. You can always pin a certain color so that you don’t lose it with the next search.
Vidno is a hassle-free video conferencing progressive web app. You can connect up to 10 on Vidno without any registration. Just visit the website, create the link, and share with the person you want to do a video call. The best part is everything is secure and encrypted, so you don’t have to worry about any privacy issues.
HEALTH, WELLNESS, AND PRODUCTIVITY:
Insulin Buddy as the name suggests is an insulin tracking progressive web app, where you can track the amount of insulin you should take based on your carbohydrate intake. The app UI is fairly simple and can be used to track the amount of insulin 3 times a day.
2. Habit Loop
HabitLoop is a progressive web app that you can use to track your habits and goals. Simply create a plan and add related habits/goals inside it. Now keep a track of goals and log them in the Habit Loop PWA. This will get you a quick overview of how you are progressing with your habits/goals and that’s the idea here. Since this PWA is offline first, you don’t need an active internet to connect to check and keep track of your goals and habits.
BMI or Body Mass Index is the measure of fat percentage in an adult body. With BMI Calculator progressive web app, you can fill in your height and weight to get the BMI value of your body. A simple yet useful PWA to track your BMI.
Journalistic is a simple, yet powerful micro journaling progressive web app one can use for daily journaling. The approach here is simple, open the app daily, and log everything that happened that day in this digital journal. You can sort your journal with tag, add things that you want to focus on, or track your dreams on the daily basis. You can also export your journal as a text or markdown file.
Talking about productivity and not mentioning Pomodoro timer? Well, here it is. Tomatenow is a simple to use Pomodoro timer progressive web app. You can toggle alarm, change intervals between the timer, and even access history within the Tomatenow PWA.
Some of the popular apps like Twitter, Telegram, Tinder, Flipkart, Walmart Grocery, Starbucks, Pinterest, TikTok, Instagram, Tumblr, and Swiggy also have Progressive Web Apps, which you can access by opening their websites in any modern browser and install them on your device.
Final words: Best Progressive Web apps to try.
I have been using PWAs for a long time and I am quite impressed by this web technology, which allows me to enjoy a fully functional app without ever needing to install a native app. They are fast, they are functional and they get the job done without making you miss their native app.
But even after 5 years of the initial launch, PWAs are still not very common among general users. Many popular apps like Tinder, Telegram, and Twitter have their progressive web app available to install. And surprisingly, all of them work well for that matter. It’s just the matter of popularising PWAs so that more and more people can use them.
What do you think about PWAs? Are they going to replace the native apps anytime soon? Do let us know via a comment.