Michał Szklarski

Head of Digital Solutions

TWA Q&A: Everything you need to know about Trusted Web Activities, Progressive Web Apps and how they relate to your business

PWATechnologyCustomer Experience

The popularity of mobile devices means that a certain level of mobile experience is expected from both websites and applications. The PWA (Progressive Web Application) standard has been designed to meet such demands, combining the best of both solutions.

The concept has branched out into TWA (Trusted Web Activity), which blurs the lines between the internet and mobile\desktop applications even more.

What is a PWA?

A PWA is an application written in a web language (JavaScript + frameworks). It combines the best features of applications and websites. On one hand, it allows easy access directly from the search engine and does not require additional activities involved in its installation. It also offers the engagement-boosting benefits of native mobile device functions like push notifications, camera usage, and geolocation. Learn more about PWAs.

PWA Q&A: Your Questions Answered

1. What exactly is a TWA?

A Trusted Web Activity (TWA) allows us to "package" a PWA-standard online service in a special container based on the Chrome web browser. To an average user, this package will act like a standard application. And TWAs can be published in the Google Play Store.

From a technical standpoint, a TWA is a browser instance without its own graphic interface (URL bar and menu) which works in a verified mode (Trusted). It can connect solely to a specific domain to give the impression of browsing a full-fledged mobile application.

In other words, an application that’s based on a PWA page can be installed on a mobile device. If we decide to change the device, this installation (with the data used) can be re-created, as the TWA is linked to the user's Google account. Such an application has an icon, can work in full-screen mode, allows access to specialized device functions, and works offline. From the user's point of view, it’s essentially a standard application.

2. Does a TWA require a properly functioning PWA?

A TWA is a special container that extends PWA capabilities. Thus, when implementing a TWA, it is recommended to fine-tune your PWA and the web application’s efficiency. Or you can run a WWW redesign service, which is a process ensuring the existing website has the look&feel necessary to operate like a mobile application.

Is a TWA needed to utilize PWAs?

No. A PWA can function without a TWA. In that case, the installation process is done via the browser asking the user to "Add to home screen". However, using a TWA solution is necessary for "enclosing" the PWA (in the form of a typical application) and placing it in the Google Play Store.

4. What conditions does a PWA have to meet to become a good base for a TWA application?

Passing a verification process is a basic condition for a PWA to be recognized as a TWA. This process confirms that the application owner is also the owner of the domain linked to that app. Also, the website must comply with PWA guidelines:

Have a correct manifest.json.

Have a working Service Worker.

Maintain all traffic in HTTPS.

Work offline, e.g. by displaying a special website (placeholder).

Moreover, a TWA application must guarantee relevant performance, including smooth operation, service speed, and the lightness of the data transferred. It implies receiving an 80% (or higher) score in Google Lighthouse’s Performance category.

Google Lighthouse is an open-source automated tool that assesses a website’s structure, technical solutions, load times, and other elements. It is used to improve site performance and ensure that the site meets certain standards.

Publishing TWA applications in the Google Play Store requires an active, paid Google Play developer account. It is used to publish subsequent versions of applications and analyze downloads, installations, and deletions. It also offers a detailed console for viewing user reviews.

5. Do TWAs make native applications obsolete?

In most cases, TWAs can completely replace native applications. Most users tend to spend the bulk of their time with a few favorite applications (i.e. social media, games, and streaming services). Other activities are usually performed in the browser.

It is in the area of these remaining activities that PWAs can best demonstrate their full potential. For many purposes – such as e-commerce and e-services – PWAs and TWAs offer better customer experience than native applications, becoming a perfect replacement.

“Using a Trusted Web Activity opens up a range of new promotional opportunities for PWA applications. Publishing a PWA in the Play Store allows for significantly larger-scale promotion, both organic and through paid campaigns (such as Universal App Campaigns)”.

Piotr Kowalski

Google

6. How do I know if my company needs a TWA?

You should consider a TWA if:

  • You’re planning on upgrading your WWW service, but you also plan to keep responding to the needs of users who prefer to download applications from Google Play Store.
  • You’re implementing a PWA from scratch and want to utilize all channels to reach your users.
  • Your application’s content must be well indexed by internet search engines.
  • You’re planning on developing a mobile application only and would like to get it done quickly and inexpensively.
  • You already have a native application and would like to offer a lighter version.
  • Your current mobile application doesn’t engage users.

7. How will a TWA benefit my company?

The key benefits of using a TWA include:

  • A faster and cheaper production process compared to native applications.
  • Placing the application in the Google Play Store, if desired.
  • An easier updating process, which allows users to access the up-to-date application version at all times.

A TWA update is done in the same way as a PWA update: Changes are posted in one channel and users’ updates happen automatically, as with services and WWW applications.

  • Co-shared data: Application and website data are stored in one place. This means users do not have to re-enter their login data and can easily find their previous content.
  • Significantly smaller application size, as compared to native applications.

TWA occupies less space than an application; users are less likely to delete it to free up device memory. It’s also frequently downloaded via a mobile internet connection, thanks to its small size.

8. Will maintaining a PWA and TWA mean we’ll need another team?

On the contrary: Web technologies – i.e. PWAs and their supporting solutions – mean that companies no longer need to maintain separate parallel teams. PWAs rid us of the necessity to independently develop websites and mobile applications, as changes are implemented in just one place.

9. Is this fledgling technology ready to support business operations?

It is completely ready. Although Google released the TWA solution at the beginning of 2019, its popularity has risen dramatically. This is due to TWA’s ability to combine simple implementation and maintenance processes with a wide range of functionalities.

Additionally, TWAs are also being continuously developed by e-point. We support the growth of this technology and work to refine it.

10. Are there any companies that have already implemented a PWA?

Yes. Among e-point clients, PWAs and TWAs have been launched by Inter Cars, Morele.net, and other companies.

11. TWA is a Google solution. What about other app stores?

Although TWA was created to run on Android, the PWA standard is widely supported by many other organizations, including Microsoft, Adobe, and Mozilla.

PWAs are also being supported by other technologies, such as Apache Cordova. Just like TWAs, Cordova creates a container housing a PWA application, which allows the PWA to be offered in Apple’s App Store and other places.

12. So iOS supports PWA?

Yes. The Safari browser can already support PWA applications. Properly customized PWAs may be placed in the App Store.

It should be kept in mind that Apple's rules and regulations, for both native applications and PWAs, include provisions to ensure the full discretion of App Store administrative team in deciding which applications may be put in the store.

13. If we develop web applications, aren’t we just narrowing our market down to mobile customers?

PWA applications also work well on larger screens. A good example is the Trivago application in the Microsoft Store. The Trivago app helps people find accommodations near famous sights, choose their maximum room price, and search for and compare offers according to location or price. Its functionality is the same on a desktop as on a smartphone.

PWAs are developed following the "mobile-first" rule. Applications and websites developed for mobile devices first can more easily adjust to bigger devices and retain full functionality and visual consistency. The same is not true of attempting to scale down desktop-sized apps.

PWAs Are Mobile 2.0

PWA and TWA constitute a natural evolution for the mobile devices that increasingly pervade our world. Consequently, PWA has become the main trend in developing applications, taking the mobile experience to a whole new level by combining the best features of websites and applications.

Web technologies can facilitate the application development process. Plus, they require lower production costs. Maintaining a single application (instead of simultaneously maintaining separately developed applications) allows businesses to focus on better satisfying customer needs via PWAs and TWAs.