The rise of the Progressive Web Apps

Originally developed for Android and iOS, Clive was designed for Tidy Green Clean (TGC) with mobile and remote workers in mind to manage their timesheets. As time progressed, we were aware that the platform had to be reworked to face TGC’s next steps. With a workforce made up of commercial cleaners working unconventional hours across numerous locations, it was vital for TGC to be able to locate their staff whilst on jobs without actively tracking them during off hours. With a fragmented mobile estate and an eye on aggressive growth from the business, it was vital that costs were kept lean without impacting on future functionality requirements. Furthermore, we wanted to be able to update the platform without being impacted by the delays associated with the iOS App Store. Enter the Progressive Web App.

A progressive web app is a mobile app delivered through the web. The main difference from a native app is that there is no need to download it from an app store. It runs, self-contained, right in a web browser. With the help of service workers, a progressive web app is able to load instantly, even in areas of low or no connectivity. By choosing to use a PWA over a native version of the same application, users consume less data (as is the case for the Twitter PWA) and puts less demand on the mobile device (Facebook’s PWA uses 15% less battery). With the help of pre-caching, the app stays up to date at all times, displaying the most recent version upon launching. For critical changes required at the drop of a hat, the update is automatic and can be pushed without having to wait for approval from the relevant app store authority. By developing for the web, the time (and therefore cost) to build OS-specific apps is drastically cut as a single codebase doesn’t require a developer per platform.

But it’s not just us, PWAs are everywhere right now, Twitter, Starbucks, Lancôme and now Facebook all boast their use, with good reason! It is all about removing friction and making it easy for the users to get to what they want. Google, Apple and Microsoft, the three main standards in terms of native app distribution, are all driving the transition to PWAs. Because of their inherent flexibility, PWAs are the best way to stay ahead of the curve in the mobile industry.

In terms of functionality, the PWA can leverage all the hardware at its disposal. In our case, every location where a cleaner is required has a unique QR code generated during the onboarding. The cleaner arrives, scans the QR code with their camera app and they are redirected to the web app which automatically checks them in to the location, takes a time stamp and on departing (and rescanning the QR code) clocks them out. If they’re offline at the time, the data is cached until they’re next online. This generates an entry into their time sheet and on a weekly basis the admin manager can review and sign off their hours in a matter of minutes rather than the previous hours! 

If you are looking at a mobile app for your business or your customers, but are concerned about the costs and time involved, give us a shout and we can discuss how an initial offering built as a PWA could save you a considerable investment in a suite of native apps.