Progressive Web Apps in 2021

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Maximiliano Firtman has a look at PWAs this year, including trying to get a bead on how widespread they are:

At the end of 2020, approximately 1% of websites included a Service Worker, and 2.2% had an installable Web App Manifest file. Remember that some platforms -such as Safari on iOS or Chrome on Android- do not require a Service Worker to have a standalone experience after installation. We can assume that 2.2% of websites are installable, and 1% may pass the PWA criteria on Android, 71% of which offer some offline experience.

That data is from the HTTP Archive, which looked at 7.5 million websites. So 1% might seem like a small number, but that’s lots of sites with PWA tech on them, and 170% year-over-year growth. Those are just the minimum requirements, though. I’m sure fully embracing PWA-ness (e.g. real offline usage) is a tiny fraction of that. Maximiliano has lots of more detailed data, so be sure to dig into the article if you’re interested in the nuance.

Anecdotally, I’d say PWAs fell out of general conversation last year. I don’t think anybody is exactly against the technologies that make them up, but they aren’t embracing them either. My guess? Everyone is scared of Service Workers. I’m scared of Service Workers. They do scary things, like aggressively hold onto cache. I think a whole dev team really needs to understand them and embrace them into their workflow and build process for them to be effective. Generally speaking, we just aren’t there yet.

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