Last Updated: April 11, 2024
PWA Support
Published On: April 11, 2024

Blog Summary: This blog is an in-depth guide for decision-makers to gain all the knowledge they need before developing a PWA. It will help them establish browser support and compatibility for PWAs and how they can leverage their benefits and testing tools across different browsers.

“PWAs are just the websites that took all the right vitamins.”

Alex Russell, the Google Chrome engineer who coined the term PWAs.

Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) have gained massive recognition and are game-changers for streaming platforms, cloud applications, and gaming consoles for the following reasons:

  • They only need web browser support to run smoothly
  • They provide a native-app-like user experience.
  • They are 3 to 8 times comparatively cheaper to develop than native apps
  • They boost conversions by 50%

According to Emergen Research, the global PWA market is anticipated to reach USD 10.44 billion by 2027 at a CAGR of 31.9%.

Hulu, the leading streaming platform in the US, added PWA Support to replace its desktop apps, which had poor reviews. 96% of the users switched to PWAs within 5 months, leading to a 27% increase in repeat visits.

The following sections will further explain why PWAs remain a powerful option for creating multi-device journeys. They allow users to start right where they left off.

What is PWA?

Progressive Web App development involves building applications on web platforms using the most commonly used web technologies, such as HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.
These apps are built and deployed on the web but enable a user experience similar to a platform-specific app. They use modern APIs to enhance their capabilities while reaching web users on any device.

With a single codebase, a PWA needs three pillars to lay a strong foundation:

  1. It should have all the capabilities to make web browser compatibility safer and less intimidating to users.
  2. It should be reliable enough to perform regardless of the network speed by responding quickly to each user interaction.
  3. Users should be able to install it from their web browsers and launch it from their home screens, taskbars, or shelves.

Importance of Browser Support for PWA

PWAs are usually displayed without the browser UI, but they are still websites. In other words, they need PWA browser support with a browser engine like Google Chrome or Safari. The platform OS provides the environment and manages the PWA.
It might look like the browser works in the background, but for a PWA, it works as an Operating System.

For a PWA to perform smoothly, browsers should support push notifications, home-screen saving, and accessibility through mobile browsers.
Hence, robust browser support is essential for PWAs to ensure that users don’t experience constantly reloading websites when searching for fresh content. They should also work irrespective of a flaky Internet connection.

The Benefits of Using PWA for Businesses and Developers

PWAs offer a wide range of benefits to businesses and developers, including offline access, push notifications, and a platform-agnostic user interface. Yet, they remain unchartered territory and offer numerous benefits.

A great example of immense business success is Trivago, which evolved its business through PWAs across 55 countries and 33 languages. It increased user engagement by 150% with the feature of add-to-homescreen.

Let’s discuss some of the benefits of PWA Support to businesses and developers:

Benefits to Businesses Benefits to Developers
PWAs allow businesses to increase website loading speeds by loading only the necessary parts of a page. PWAs use a Client-side rendering approach, helping developers render content using JavaScript instead of sending HTML documents.
PWAs enable businesses to provide a seamless user experience with offline web browsing compatibility, even in a spotty network. PWAs are platform-agnostic, enabling developers to build and maintain separate native apps for iOS, Android, and the web.
Businesses can leverage the push notification feature, motivating users to open the app again and increasing repeat visits. PWAs don’t need regular updates, reducing the developers’ work as they actively update themselves in real time.
It can be added to users’ home screens, and they won’t need a browser once the web app is added. PWAs allow developers to work with service workers and use caching mechanisms, reducing development time.
It serves as a local app that removes clumsiness and lag from browsing and provides customer satisfaction. Businesses can take advantage of having app store-ready apps with a single codebase of PWAs.
PWAs provide more visibility to businesses by helping them index them in SERPs. PWAs utilize web technologies to quicken the development cycles.

How PWAs Bridge the Gap Between Web and Native Apps?

PWAs combine the two development approaches: native mobile apps and websites. The difference is that PWAs have a single codebase instead of having different development environments. Let’s simplify this difference.

A native iOS or Android app is undoubtedly easy to install and update, with hardware access and integration with app stores. However, they have different codebases to maintain.

Web apps, on the other hand, don’t have different codebases, making them easy to distribute over the web. Yet, they lack the native user experience.

Progressive web app development offers a third perspective. It allows developers to build apps from the same codebase, which is compatible with web browsers and offers a native-like user experience. A PWA is easy to install on the home screen and can be updated while providing offline access.

Here’s how PWAs bridge the gap between native apps and web apps:

1. PWAs Only Need Service Workers to Cache a Website

A service worker is part of a PWA development service, which is a virtual proxy that caches a website’s assets to ensure it works offline. However, in a native app, the device’s RAM stores the data for caching to increase the data retrieval speed.

Similarly, a web app uses CDN to fetch content from an origin server and save the data for future use. A service worker works in the background, intercepting all network requests, establishing APIs, and caching resources to ensure offline accessibility.

2. PWAs are Installable on the Home Screen

PWAs use Web App Manifest (WAM), a JSON file that allows users to install them on their home screens like any other app. Other native apps for iOS and Android use Package installers to establish APIs and APKs and enable installation on mobile devices and desktops.

Hence, progressive web app development is much easier than any other native app because it requires no additional feature other than a service worker to store, access, and send data.

The Role of Browser Support in PWA Success

The boosts in conversion rates gauge the impact of a PWA. Even if the design and content are top-notch, the first thing users see is the load speed.

PWAs are capable of scaling down the data volume to a fraction of a second. They can boost conversions up to 300% with optimized speed similar to a native app. The success of PWAs depends on web browser compatibility and support across different browsers. Here’s why:

1. Support for Emerging Markets

Organizations operating in emerging markets need users to have consistent site access. PWAs provide device-agnostic performance that supports this accessibility regardless of location.

2. There is No Reload When Switching Pages

PWAs possess the function of not reloading the entire page when switching between different pages. They also eliminate app-install functions and decrease the web-to-app install drop-offs.

For web browser compatibility and support, PWAs need web technologies to enable those functionalities. Here’s an overview of them:

3. Single-page Applications (SPAs)

SPAs rewrite the page content instead of reloading it. Since SPAs use JavaScript to manipulate the current page, they’re an important web technology for PWA browser support that enables users to feel that they have switched pages.

4. Web App Manifest

The web app manifest is a JSON file that directs a browser regarding a web app’s behavior when a user installs it on a device. It includes information about the app’s name, icons, and the URL at the start time.

5. Service Workers

A service worker is a client-side Javascript file that is added to the codebase and resides between the server and the browser. It’s an important part of a PWA that helps it mimic the native-like features.

PWA Support for Chrome vs. Safari vs. Edge

While PWAs are highly beneficial for businesses because of their offline support, not all browsers support them. Moreover, not all browser versions are compatible with providing PWA support.

For example, only the latest versions of leading browsers like Chrome (Windows), Opera (Android), and Firefox (Windows) fully support PWAs. Similarly, Microsoft Edge and Safari only have limited support for PWAs.

Here’s a short comparison between all the three of them:

Chrome Safari MS Edge
Frees up to 33% of available free disk space. The Cache API quota of fetching requests is set to 50 MB per partition. IndexedDB and cache storage were removed for apps using JavaScript.
Offers service workers features for offline access and background sync Partial support for app manifests. Recent updates give the same readings as Chrome, providing support for PWAs.
It supports the installation of PWAs on home screens for Android devices. Apple-specific extensions define most metadata for a PWA. Chromium-based browsers provide support for PWAs.
Includes PWA-specific tools for debugging and testing. iOS 13 introduced Share Sheet changes to enhance PWA’s visual recognition. EDGE HTML 17.17063 enables service workers and push notifications as default.
It allows access to push notifications even when users close their browsers. There are no automatic installation prompts, but it provides web push notifications API. Microsoft Store lists PWAs packaged as an appx in Windows 10.
It offers Lighthouse Audit to evaluate PWA’s performance, accessibility, and SEO. Dark mode support allows users to switch between light and dark modes. PWAs installed by Microsoft Stores also appear in the Cortana search.

Build Apps That Users Can Access from Home Screens

Pack your PWAs with browser support and offline functions to improve user times.
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Detailed Explanation: PWA Support Across Key Web Browsers

PWA Support for Chrome

Chrome offers full PWA support with service workers for offline access, background sync, and push notifications. It enables browsers to work even in sloppy connections. It also supports the web app manifests, allowing developers to PWA metadata.

This includes data such as icons, names, and theme colors to provide a more app-like experience.

Chrome also supports the feature of “add to home screen,” allowing users to choose the option to add the app to their home screen when they visit a PWA site. Additionally, Chrome offers numerous development tools to support the development, debugging, and testing of PWAs.

Some of these tools include Manifest Editor, Service Worker Debugging, Service Worker Management, Push Notifications Simulator, and Lighthouse Audit.

PWA Support for Safari

Safari provides support for PWAs, but Chrome is more extensive. It doesn’t provide support for background sync, which allows service workers to sync data with the server in the background.

While Safari supports push notifications, it doesn’t support persistent push connections, which can delay them compared to other browsers. Safari also has limited PWA browser support for cache storage, which impacts PWAs’ ability to cache resources for offline access.

Debugging tools like Web Inspector for inspecting cached resources don’t offer the same level of functionality as those available in Chrome. While it allows the feature of “add to home screen” for iOS devices, the push notifications can be implemented using Apple Push Notifications Systems (APNs).

PWA Support for MS Edge

MS Edge provides support for background sync; however, the implementation process differs from that of other browsers. Developers have to set up test environments to simulate testing scenarios by setting up development servers or using the service worker toolbox.

Additionally, support for push notifications can be configured with web push API and services like Firebase Cloud Messaging (FCM). Simulating offline caching scenarios involves using cache storage API to cache static assets, resources, and offline functions.

With the use of Dev Tools like Network Throttling, Console Logging, and Lighthouse Integration, MS Edge’s support for PWA is still limited.

Top Tools and Resources for Testing PWA Across Different Browsers

PWA testing is an essential process similar to developing any other native or web app. PWA development services include testing tools to help evaluate the performance, functionality, and user experience of a PWA.

For testing, there are some tools and resources for desktop and mobile browsers.

Developers can test PWAs in two ways:

Manual Testing

In manual testing, you can check a PWA manually through:

  • Compatibility testing
  • Launch and installation
  • Performance testing
  • Accessibility testing
  • Security check
  • Push notifications

Automated Testing

In automated testing, developers have cloud-based testing platforms:

1. Lighthouse by Google

Lighthouse is a PWA testing tool that helps evaluate and improve webpage quality. As per the PWA guidelines, it analyzes applications by checking offline features, optimizing their speed, and using HTTPS security protocols. Lighthouse can also be used as a node module to perform audits.

2. Playwright

Playwright is another open-source testing tool that enables automation for modern web applications. It has a library for third-party program linking and a built-in test runner for automation, and it supports multiple programming languages.

3. Appium

As a mobile test automation framework, Appium uses JSON wire protocol for native, hybrid, and m-web apps. It consists of an HTTP server in Node.js for device testing and common listening, apart from open-source libraries.

4. Puppeteer

Puppeteer is a Node.js library that provides a high-level API for browser automation using Chrome. Its main features include JavaScript-based testing for service workers and a full-page browser.

PWA vs Native App: Pros and Cons

PWAs are easy & affordable to build and take less disk space. Native apps, on the other hand, require separate development platforms, such as iOS and Android. However, developing an app requires adopting some best practices that optimize the responsive design and fast loading times.

Let’s look at the pros and cons of both.

Pros of PWAs Cons of PWAs
PWAs deliver shorter development cycles, ensuring faster market releases and MVP rollouts. Device resource optimization is difficult because PWAs need complete hardware control.
Push notifications increase user engagement with the added advantage of reaching both desktops and mobile devices. PWAs have difficulty working with device-specific features as they have limited functions compared to traditional web apps.
They are cost-effective, with development costs starting as low as USD 6,000. Support for wearables and other Apple devices is less in PWAs
They use widely used, common, and less expensive technologies like HTML, JavaScript, and CSS, requiring less development experience. PWAs pose challenges with legacy devices as older browser versions are not compatible with them.
They offer native-like experiences without the need to download and install them. Some operating systems consume the battery of the devices faster with PWAs running, and not all features are accessible.
Pros of Native Apps Cons of Native Apps
Native apps can easily interact with other apps on the device, allowing easier integration. The development cycle of native apps is slower compared to PWAs, as they can take months and years to develop.
Native app development allows access to developer tools for the specific platform OS. Native apps require more maintenance to ensure they are bug-free and secure.
Native apps can integrate payment stores with users’ app stores, making it easier to monetize your PWA. Native apps need to be developed separately for different platforms, and the same app needs to be developed twice.
Native apps have an easier app store publishing process as Apple Store requires a native wrapper and Play Store requires Bubble wrap packages for uploading. Companies with limited time, resources, and budgets might not want to invest in native apps when they have an option for PWA.

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The Future of PWA and Browser Evolution

The page speed of a website has a significant impact on business metrics. In the current age, users want reliable and fast-loading apps. Studies have shown that users wouldn’t download or install an app when they can browse a website.
Limited storage is another issue that keeps users from downloading an app.

Backed by Google, the future of PWAs looks promising, with giants like Starbucks, MakeMyTrip, Amazon, Uber, Spotify, and Goibibo realizing their importance. This technology is becoming increasingly highly democratized and accessible.

Additionally, browser evolution is in for a tremendous shift. The Next Gen Web (NGW) will be dual asynchronous Peer-to-Peer (P2P) communication between two browsers using Server-Sent Events (SSE) and Secure Web Sockets, along with JavaScript and HTML5. With WebRTC, Web Speech API, AI and IoT, web page viewing will become more interactive.

Want to Build a Progressive Web App? Here’s What to Consider

Building a PWA requires considering its feasibility to reap its maximum benefits and overcome common challenges. Partner with Moon Technolabs, a PWA development company that can help you get started with modern web APIs and make the site faster, installable, and more engaging than a native app.

PWA development services aim to solve all these problems by developing apps for all devices and adapting them to different environments and user expectations. They are easy to implement because you can extend features anytime.

Moreover, they will always remain cross-platform without needing to change frameworks and technologies.


Yes, Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) are very relevant in the current age. Users want easy mobile accessibility, and compared to traditional websites, PWAs provide a better user experience. They are also more secure than native apps as they are built on HTTPS protocols. It’s easier for businesses to develop PWAs because they don’t require approval from app stores and marketplaces.

The most important difference between a PWA and a web application is that a web app isn’t built on a programming language or operating system. A PWA, on the other hand, runs on a web server and is distributed through it. Users can install a PWA from websites. For example, Twitter Lite and Facebook Lite are PWAs.

Building a PWA requires three essential components: a web app manifest file to display the web content through an operating system app, an HTTPS protocol to serve the app securely, and a service worker that establishes a virtual proxy between the browser and network while fetching events. These are all significant in ensuring proper caching of website assets and providing offline functionality for users’ devices.

PWAs combine native apps and websites. Native apps require learning a language to build versions for different platforms. However, PWAs can be built on a single codebase for different platforms instead of starting from scratch. With tools like Google Lighthouse, you can develop one responsive version that displays identically across all devices.
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Jayanti Katariya

Jayanti Katariya is the CEO of Moon Technolabs, a fast-growing IT solutions provider, with 18+ years of experience in the industry. Passionate about developing creative apps from a young age, he pursued an engineering degree to further this interest. Under his leadership, Moon Technolabs has helped numerous brands establish their online presence and he has also launched an invoicing software that assists businesses to streamline their financial operations.

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