What Are Progressive Web Apps?
Progressive web apps, also known as PWAs, are web applications that straddle the two worlds of smartphone apps and full-on websites you’d normally view in your browser, giving you the best of both. Essentially, PWAs turn a website into a standalone app. They don’t require you to open your internet browser to use them, but they still let you get push notifications, and many of them are even optimized to work offline. They’re also just as safe as using a website, native app, or mobile app.
PWAs are remarkably easy to access and use. You don’t have to wade through an app store to find them; simply download them directly from compatible websites and open them whenever you want. So. if you want to only be on Twitter, just open your Twitter PWA and get to scrolling. Progressive web apps are the perfect way to enjoy the feel of a native app with a lightweight feel.
Why Use a PWA?
Progressive web apps typically load faster than native apps or opening the page up in a browser, as they download content and page elements that won’t require you to reload them each time you use them. They are also slightly less of a drain on your computer’s resources than native apps, which is why they are most popular with Chrome OS users. Though, there is absolutely no reason for them to not be used on any type of operating system.
How Do You Install a Progressive Web App?
It’s worth noting that not all websites are optimized for PWA usage. However, the ones that are, usually supply you with at least one way to download it as a PWA.
Pop-up Prompt: Some sites will automatically have a pop-up window that prompts you to add the page’s app to your dock or taskbar. Simply click “Add” to download it.
URL Bar Plus Sign: For this method, look at your computer’s URL bar towards the right side. If you see a plus sign there, click it and you’ll be prompted to download it as a progressive web app.
Browser Page Menu: You can also find the download option for supported pages in your browser’s menu. When you’re on a compatible page, open the menu, and you should see an option that says “Install App.” Click on it to start the download.
Our Picks for Best Progressive Web Apps
There are options for a variety of needs and interests, from streaming media to shopping. Here are some of our favorite PWA picks (and what you can expect from them) that you can enjoy without being tethered to your browser.
Best for Music and Video
- YouTube Music: Use the PWA version of this site to listen to the latest releases, stream your favorite songs, make playlists, and watch music videos.
- Spotify: Browse playlists and charts, listen to music and podcasts, create collaborative playlists, and follow bands and artists to see new updates and tour info.
- Hulu: Stream new and classic movies and network TV shows, and save your favorite titles to your list for future movie marathons.
- iHeartRadio: Read the latest entertainment news and listen to live radio, podcasts, artist radio stations, all for free.
Best for Social Sites
- Twitter: Follow feeds of your friends and favorite celebs, follow trending news topics, and send your own tweets.
- Tinder: Browse and connect with local singles near you, and fill out your own dating profile.
- Pinterest: Scroll through popular images covering a variety of topics, follow other users, and create your own topic boards to save images.
Best for Shopping & Food
- Starbucks: Make your coffee order online, buy mugs and goods, collect rewards, and browse popular coffee and tea beverages.
- Letgo: Sell your secondhand goods locally, and browse goods (from clothing to furniture to cars) that are available from other local sellers.
- Trivago: Browse and book a variety of lodging accommodations for your upcoming vacations.
- Grubhub: Order food takeout from all participating local restaurants and have it delivered right to your doorstep.
Best for Productivity & Fun
- Google Suite: Many apps within the Google Suite work as a PWA, including Google Drive, Google Photos, and Google News. You can even use them offline.
- Guitar Tuner: Allow the app to access your microphone and you can easily tune your guitar (or your violin, or your oboe) without having to buy a costly physical tuner.
- Financial Times: Stay up to date with the latest national and global financial news across major markets, see top financial analyses, and listen to finance-related podcasts.
- Unsplash: Browse, save, and download royalty-free images for your blog, website, or hey—even just for fun.
Progressive web apps make it easy for you to have a lightweight fast experience on your computer. Download your favorite apps today and enjoy!