In 2010, the idea of "responsive web design" (RWD) began to reverberate around web development circles. Over time, it began to garner support, and was strengthened by the rise of RWD-enhancing web technologies like responsive images, @supports, flexbox, grid, and more. Today, the majority of websites are built with RWD principles which is definitely a serious improvement over the traditional desktop web experience.
In the last two years, a similar evolution has been occurring: Progressive Web Apps (PWA), an umbrella term for a new set of standardized browser technologies that mesh the traditional web experience with the reliability and ease of use we would associate with native applications, has been gaining ground, resulting in increased browser support. In January 2018, PWAs will be implemented into Mozilla's latest version of Firefox.
Service workers, part of the technology that makes PWAs possible, has been in Firefox since earlier this year with the release of v44, but Mozilla is now filling in the remaining feature gaps. With the announcement of Firefox 58 earlier this week, the company said the browser will have support for web app manifests. This will allow web apps to set custom app icons and startup pages while hiding the browser user interface when opened from the home screen.
Google Chrome has long supported Progressive Web Apps, and has recently allowed installation of them in the app drawer, like native applications. However, it appears that home screen shortcuts created in Mozilla will appear as a separate entry in the "Android Recents" screen and not in the app drawer like Chrome PWAs do.
For upcoming releases, Mozilla plans to add more support for other PWA related API's like Payment request and Web Share APIs. While the implementation of background sync is already in the works, with a target release for Firefox 59. Firefox 58 will be available in January 2018.
Are you excited that PWAs are beginning to receive wider browser support? Do you currently utilize the feature on Chrome? Drop a comment below and let us know.