Progressive web apps:
a love story


photo of Nolan Lawson

A story about mobile



  • ≥ 9,700 reviews
  • 4.8 stars
  • Top 50 in category "Entertainment"

Why was Pokédroid so popular?

Many alternatives on the web

  • Bulbapedia
  • Marriland
  • Serebii
  • GameFAQs

What made Pokédroid unique:


It's so nice to be able to be on the road playing Pokémon and having a quick reference without all the large guidebooks.
– Google Play Store review
Super awesome-o. I use this all the time for Pokémon instead of having to go online to Serebii.
– Google Play Store review

3.5MB SQLite database

2011: Pokédroid DMCA'd


  • Publishing to app store asserts IP ownership
  • Nintendo wary of apps
  • Web sites okay

In 2011, you could not build Pokédroid using web technology alone.

RIP Pokédroid 😢

The web? 🤔

The web! 😍

Bruce Lawson – Progressive web apps
and the future of the web

HTML [is] in direct competition with other technologies intended for applications deployed over the web, in particular Flash and Silverlight.
– Ian Hickson, 2009 (via Bruce Lawson)

Steve Jobs, "Thoughts on Flash" (2010)

Alex Russell – Progressive web apps

[The web] won on desktop, just in time for mobile to eat the world.
– Alex Russell, 2016

2016: Progressive Web Apps (PWAs)

Coined by Alex Russell

Profile of a PWA

  • Works offline
  • Launches from home screen
  • "Feels" like a native app
  • Push notifications (optional)
  • Background sync (optional)

What changed?

Touch iconsWeb App Manifest
Save to homescreenInstall banner

Putting it all together


Server-side rendering

FLIP animations

Tips from a native mobile developer

  1. Prefer offline
  2. Use background threads

Poké IDB: 4M Chrome, 5.6M FF

Galaxy Nexus (2011), Android 4.3

In 2011, you couldn't build a high-performance, immersive offline app with web technologies.

In 2016, you can.

Thanks! 👋