The Weather Company offers a smartphone app, like any other sane company that harbors aspirations on the Internet. But it has seen more and more people visit its mobile website in recent years. According to Sheri Bachstein, the Weather Companyís vice president of web, about fifty percent of its web traffic now arrives on mobile phones and tablets (as opposed to the desktop). Yes, more people use the companyís various apps, but increasingly, the mobile web is a vital way of reaching its worldwide audienceónot to mention maintaining and expanding that audience.
The company now offers what Google calls a progressive web app.Basically, this is a website that, in sometimes gradually evolving ways, behaves like a native app. You visit it through a browser, just like any other website. But as you continue to use it, turning on certain tools, it transforms into something more.
You use it. You like it. And over time, you progressively build a relationship with it.
With a progressive web app, you can set up push notifications, so you know when new content arrives. You can add an icon to your phoneís home screen, so you can rapidly revisit the service. And perhaps most importantly, thanks to a technology called service workers, it can operate both online and off, kinda like a web app. Among other things, this means that when you visit the web app a second time, it loads faster. Itís more like the thing is sitting on your phone.