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GDS bangs drum for progressive web apps

03/04/18

Updated Service Manual urges public authorities to stay up-to-date with emerging element of mobile technology

The Government Digital Service (GDS) has highlighted the potential for progressive web apps (PWAs) in digital public services, saying they can provide an alternative to native mobile apps.

code.nasa app on smartphoneIt has included a section in the updated version of its Service Manual that urges digital service teams to look at how PWAs can be used and pointing them towards a handful of sources for further information.

PWAs are web applications that use a single code base for a web application to appear on a mobile device as if they native mobile applications. They have been championed by Google and there are reports of Apple planning to follow suit later this year.

IT analyst Gartner recently forecast they will have a major impact on the development of mobile apps.

Advantages

An accompanying blogpost by John Strudwick of GDS says they can provide an identical user experience to mobile apps and help to reduce development costs. Other advantages are that they are quick to install and take advantage of the new features available on mobile devices and browsers.

 “PWAs bring us a shift in what’s possible for government,” Strudwick says. “Now’s the time we can bring a consistent experience to mobile service users.”

He adds that GDS is talking with major mobile providers to work out which situations may still require the use of mobile apps, and plans to iterate the guidance in the Service Manual when this becomes clear. It is also encouraging other government officials to let it know if they feel there are cases with a clear need for native apps.

Imge from GOV.UK, Open Government Licence v3.0

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