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iOS Developers’ Alert: Apple Unleashes the Power of Progressive Web Apps

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iOS Developers’ Alert: Apple Unleashes the Power of Progressive Web Apps

Apple is working to introduce support for Service Workers in Safari. See how this could change app development for the App Store.

· Web Dev Zone ·
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Technology giant Apple Inc. is in an endeavor to extend support for web apps in its default browser Safari. Experts are already working to introduce support for Service Workers in this browser. This move from Apple is a clear hint that they are moving ahead with the growing concept of Progressive Web Apps (PWA). 

How will the extended support of Service Workers in Safari browser impact enterprises? Are mobile apps being challenged by progressive web apps for the iOS platform? How does the future of iOS app development for the App Store look after this move by Apple? Let’s dig deeper to understand the intention behind this massive move by Apple.

What’s the Role of Service Workers in Safari 11.1?

Support for service workers is an important Safari update for the latest version, 11.1. These service workers have added support for background scripts that can proxy network requests. Debugging for service workers is added to the Web Inspector in the Safari version 11.1.
With such major additions to the latest Safari browser, it is possible to implement background scripts for accessing offline web applications and faster loading of web pages. Service workers enable developers to build web applications that can function even when the device is not connected to the internet.

This means that developers can now think of creating applications that are saved to the Home screen, just like any other normal app. These apps work in a full-fledged manner by allowing users to access the camera from within the web app along with background synchronization. The main highlight of such as app is that it can be accessed online as well as offline, thereby providing uninterrupted access to users.

This is a part of an industrywide initiative that allows developers to build browser web applications, i.e. Progressive Web apps that are cached by service workers to work even in offline mode.

Cross-Platform Apps for Everyone

Apple’s new approach has come as a boon to developers who were looking forward to building cross-platform apps with enterprise-class secure conferencing solutions that work across several standards-compliant browsers.

Following are the words of Apple Inc. during the launch of Service Workers: “Offline applications are important to the web. After HTML5 first tried to accommodate them with the Offline Application Cache, the Service Workers specification was created as a successor. This standard describes new APIs focused on using JavaScript to handle resource loading for a web page without network access. While work continues, we’re excited to enable Service Workers by default in this release.”

In addition to extending support for service workers, Apple is simultaneously working on a Web App Manifests specification. This is yet another technology that would be needed to implement Progressive Web Applications in the Safari browser. The amalgamation of Web App Manifests and Service Workers results in the development of JavaScript-based apps that run from the home screen.

Is Apple Giving Preference to Web Apps Over the Ones in the App Store?

Some experts believe that this bold move of Apple towards introducing support for Service Workers may be its strategy to prioritize web apps over the ones sold in the App Store. Thinking on it deeply, web apps may surely have an upper hand over simple, basic apps in iTunes.

But it doesn’t seem like web applications would take over the complex apps of the App Store. Though web-based apps have redefined the definition of usability across platforms, it would take some time for them to replace the apps of iTunes.

On a Concluding Note…

Apple was in favor of supporting web apps even earlier when Steve Jobs argued the need to create support for app development on iOS when there was available support for Web 2.0 apps through the Safari browser. Though that idea was abandoned previously to make way for the new smartphone platform, Apple seems to be serious about making the transition to web apps this time.

It will be interesting to see how iOS developers cope with the mechanism of building simple, intuitive, and user-friendly web apps to beat their counterparts available in the App Store. Share your reviews on this move by Apple Inc. and what you think about it by commenting on this blog post.

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Topics:
ios ,progressive web apps ,apple ,mobile ,mobile app development

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