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Twitter’s app is helping stop phones from strangling the web

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Twitter's app is helping stop phones from strangling the web

For years, Twitter has offered both a website and mobile apps for iPhones and Android. But in 2017, it decided to marry the two approaches . The result is one of the highest-profile examples of what’s called a progressive web app , a technology that could rejuvenate the web and challenge the power of app stores. The web got its start as a place for static documents studded with hypertext links to other websites. But over the last two decades, it’s become steadily more interactive. For many of us, a web browser is mostly all we need on our laptops. But on mobile devices, apps that use interfaces built natively into Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android rule the roost. Twitter’s choice to offer a progressive web app, or PWA, shows what’s possible on the web now. The company likes its native apps, but says its PWA is good for quickly bringing new people to Twitter.

"The web works everywhere," said Charlie Croom , a Twitter programmer who helped build the company’s web app. "It’s the lowest barrier to entry and most of our users’ first experience."

PWAs employ new web programming abilities championed by Google and allies like Microsoft that make interactive websites behave more like regular phone apps. PWA abilities include things like working even when you don’t have a network connection, launching with a tap on a home-screen icon, sending you alerts with push notifications and synchronizing data in the background for snappy startup.

Those abilities are at the heart […]

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