Have you heard about Progressive Web Apps (PWA)? They’re the next big thing, and will change the way we use and interact with our computers. At least, that’s the theory, but it’s a good one. Any computer operating system lives or dies on the availability and the quality of apps. The original iPhone didn’t even have an app store, that idea didn’t last long. Windows Phone didn’t live long either because Microsoft weren’t able to attract developers to the platform. Windows Phone might have had a healthy 10% or larger market share in some European countries like the UK and France, but in the US (which seems to dominate thinking with tech products) it barely scraped above 1% at any time.
PWAs are set to change all of this, to the point where it simply won’t matter what operating system you’re using any more, the apps you run will look the same, work the same, and act the same on every computer from a desktop to a smartphone. This is because PWAs are effectively boosted website apps, special versions of a website that can be packaged to work offline, be downloadable from a store, and hook into the different additional functionality each operating system offers, such as showing notifications.
Google first began to pioneer PWAs with Microsoft following soon after. Together the two tech giants are pushing the technology ahead and by the end of 2018 you’ll be seeing PWAs regularly in both the Microsoft Store and the Google Play Store, and you won’t be able to tell them apart from normal apps except that the user experience will be identical on every platform.
PWAs matter, and they matter to Gemini users because they’re not ever coded to one form factor or device type. Much of the problem with Android apps on the Gemini is that they’re written for smartphones, which adopt a portrait screen orientation. Additionally apps written for Linux don’t adapt at all well to small screens.
PWAs work more like an adaptive website, for a good example of what PWAs will look and work like visit the Mobile Twitter site. This is a great example of an adaptive mobile app that will soon also become a PWA.
So where is the advantage for Gemini owners? The big advantage comes from the fact that PWAs are always written to be platform and form-factor agnostic. Why write different apps for Windows, Linux, iOS, Mac OS, and Android, when you can write a single app that runs on everything from a desktop PC, to a smart television, a car information and entertainment system, a games console, a smartphone, and a PDA.
Because of this, and because there are at least as many devices in the world where the standard view is landscape rather than portrait, PWAs are set to enable the Gemini to come into its own. All of a sudden, and it will happen very suddenly, apps that were formatted to only render well on portrait-orientation smartphones, will work brilliantly on the Gemini in it’s native landscape orientation.
The Gemini is sometimes said to be ahead of its time. Whether this is true or not will be for tech commentators and philosophers to argue over at a later date. What is true is that it’s ahead of PWAs, but not by much. PWAs are coming to an app store near you, they’re coming soon, and they can do nothing but change the way you work for the better.