Opera and Google are collaborating to enhance the accessibility and usability of Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) for mobile phone users, combining the best attributes of both apps and mobile sites – and resulting in considerable data savings.
South Africa’s mobile penetration currently stands at 128%. However, the cost of data continues to be a significant barrier to internet access. PWAs – mobile websites delivering an app-like user experience – could be part of the solution.
“PWAs start out in web browsers, just like normal websites. When a user continuously uses the site, an install banner is shown, allowing users to add the site to their home screens,” comments Andreas Bovens, Opera for Android product lead.
“Globally, the average user has 36 apps on his/her smartphone, of which only 25% are used daily. South Africans, in particular, download more apps than any other country in Africa and naturally, these apps require regular updates, which could become expensive.
“PWAs provide the convenience of an app, including push notifications, along with faster speeds and offline support – without the data cost. PWAs also take up less storage space than traditional applications making them ideal for use on budget smartphones.”
Unlike normal apps that often require access to personal information before launching, PWAs only request these permissions when needed, allowing users to better control their privacy.
Adds Andreas: “PWAs offer a great new way for developers and businesses in South Africa to reach users right in the web browser, without requiring them to download additional apps –  and all that in a very lightweight, user friendly package. We can’t wait to see how PWA technology will shape South Africa’s mobile Internet space in the coming years.”
Opera – known for its mobile and desktop browsers, including Opera Mini – enables more than 350-million internet consumers worldwide to connect with the content and services that matter most to them.
Recent updates to Opera Mini include the blocking of unnecessary, data heavy web ads, a video booster that allows online videos to load quicker and a feature enabling users to download videos from top video and social media websites for later viewing, offline.
Opera Mini’s market share in South Africa stands at approximately 58%, with the country being Opera’s second largest market in Africa (in terms of users) and fifth largest in the world.