Do you know what a progressive web app is? Here's what you need to know!

12th February 2018

At the end of February the Criton team launched progressive web app functionality.

What is a progressive web app?

In short, progressive web apps (PWA) are web applications that are regular web pages which appear like a native app to users.

When you publish a PWA using Criton, you will get a URL link that you can send to your guests/customers. When they access it, they will be offered the option to install it on their home screen – without ever having to go through an app store. Once installed your users can access the app by clicking the icon, like a regular app, and most of the features of the app will work offline.

Is it for both Android and iOS?

Yes and no! At the moment, Google is ahead of Apple regarding this technology. For our next update, the PWA will be on Android, while we will still have a regular web app on iOS devices. However, Apple is catching up with this technology and they have announced a release date of April 2018. We will update Criton to have the PWA on Apple devices as soon as possible after that.

Learn more about progressive web apps on Google Developers’ page.

What are the benefits?

  • Speed, reliability and offline access

Progressive web apps are very fast at loading the content. This is essential because many users are proven to close anything that takes longer than 5 seconds to load. The PWA caches the information on the user’s phone memory, meaning that it works well even with bad network conditions.

  • Feels like a native app

As the PWA will sit on the user’s device home screen and work well in any conditions, it will feel like a regular native app, with an immersive full-screen experience and a very smooth navigation.

  • No need for an app store

As the PWA works with a link, like a regular website, your guest will not have to look for your app on any of the app stores. They can simply click on your link and access or install the PWA on their mobile devices. It makes it more accessible for your guests and makes the process of publishing an app faster and easier as there is no need to send the app to Google Play or the Apple App Store. It also uses storage on the users phone, which is great if your users have older devices.

Why have you built the functionality?

Apple’s criteria for actually publishing an app on the app store is becoming ever more stringent and for our operators who are looking for a digital repository of their guest information and a more mobile-friendly way of presenting their information, a PWA is a quick and cost-effective way to present the information without having to build an all singing all dancing app that meets with Apple’s criteria.

A PWA can be distributed via a URL and guests don’t have to download it from the app store making it more accessible for guests who are not as technically savvy as some.

Because much of it works offline it is great for places with a poor signal when guests are out and about.

It also saves money because you don’t need an Apple developer account which saves you $99 per annum and that helps us stick to our mission of making hospitality tech affordable.

Why shouldn’t I just make my website mobile friendly?

A mobile-friendly website won’t work offline and the way that information is displayed in an app maximises screen space, therefore enhancing the user experience because it doesn’t need the navigation bar at the top of the small screen.