Progressive Web App: How to Put it to Major App Stores

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The Internet is a universal tool for the promotion and development of web applications. Thanks to its capabilities, you can offer the results of your development to a large number of users, including submitting progressive web apps to app stores. We invite you to learn more about what progressive web applications are, why they are needed, and how to add them to popular marketplaces.

Table of contents

PWA: what is it and what is their role in the world of web applications?

The importance of publishing PWA to the app store

How to Publish PWA to Apple App Store

How to Publish Progressive Web App to Google Play Store

How to Put PWA to Microsoft Store

Conclusion

According to the generally accepted definition, Progressive Web App, or PWA, is a browser-based application that provides an alternative to a native mobile application. This term was introduced to us in 2015 by Google developers. According to one of them, Pete Lepage, its "progressiveness" can be explained as "as the user builds their relationship with the application, it becomes more and more powerful and useful."

PWAs have a number of distinctive features:

  1. Despite the superficial resemblance to applications, PWAs remain websites. To view them, the user needs a browser (Google Chrome, Safari or any other) and a URL. But after the user switches to the PWA, he can use the application without having to purchase it - just download and install it on the desktop.
  2. PWA usage is not limited to mobile devices. Like standard web applications, they can be installed and used from the desktop. In doing so, they help to optimize the use of device space.
  3. The interface of PWA applications resembles mobile applications. They are scalable for different types of user devices, easily upgraded, have a functional design and flexible architecture.

From a technical point of view, progressive web applications are a one-page site (that is, the page is viewed only once when the user first loads the site), which can be created using popular tools - for example, WordPress. PWA is also based on Service Workers technology, which provides its autonomous operation, push notifications and resource caching.

a one-page site

What is the role of progressive web applications? According to developers, PWA drives the development of the web application market and is in many ways superior to conventional sites or applications. In particular, they are faster, able to function offline, and can be displayed on any user device.

As the popularity of PWAs grows, a logical question arises: how to provide access to them for a large number of users? The answer is pretty simple - add PWA to the app store.

Many popular marketplaces on the Internet - including the Google Play Store and Microsoft Store - offer their customers the ability to self-host progressive web apps on their servers. But why is publishing PWA in the app store so important?

Firstly, it will help to increase the reach of the target audience. If a user needs an application, he is more likely to search for it in an online application store, rather than on the Internet. Secondly, it builds trust on the part of the buyer, because if the application is available in the store, then it is safe and reliable. Third, thanks to the app store tools, installing PWA apps is effortless. You can also get analytical data about the state of the application and its use (such an opportunity, for example, is provided by Microsoft).

You don't need to have a deep knowledge of web development to self-publish progressive web apps to popular app stores. We offer step-by-step instructions on how to do this without leaving your computer.

The algorithm for publishing progressive web apps on one of the most popular app stores, the Apple App Store, is pretty straightforward. But in practice, there are some peculiarities that you should know about in advance.

According to some developers (and users), the Apple App Store is the least hospitable place for PWAs. In particular, the following disadvantages have been noted:

  • no push-notifications;
  • only partial functioning of some features (e.g. PWA manifest);
  • progressive Web Apps themselves do not meet Apple App Store requirements.

The Apple App Store Review Guide itself states that every app on the marketplace must include features, content, and user experience that go beyond the repackaged website. Simply put, you simply cannot host PWAs in the Apple App Store at this time. Many experts recommend thinking about developing native apps for an iOS audience.

Apple App Store

But here, too, you can find loopholes on how to use the Apple App Store tools for promoting progressive web apps.

Step 1. Registration

PWA placement is impossible without registration on the marketplace. At the stage of registering PWA in the iOS app store, you need to prove that you are the owner of the web application. The caveat is that ownership is verified by an independent third party.

Several intermediate stages can be distinguished:

  • registration in the Apple Developer Program;
  • checking the entered information;
  • confirmation of successfully passed verification and registration on the platform.

At the very first stage of work there are difficulties that arise with the placement of the progressive web app in the Apple Store, since the verification can take several days. In addition, there are cases when, according to the results of the check, the information about the developer cannot be confirmed, which again entails red tape with updating the information.

Step 2. App packaging

You can't just place a progressive app on the marketplace - it must have the appropriate packaging. To work with the Apple App Store, it is advised to use Xcode with build tools and frameworks (for example, Cordova). Next, you need to obtain a certificate for developers, create an account on iTunes Connect and associate it with the previously obtained certificate from the Apple Developer Program. To simplify the process, you can also use the PWABuilder tools to help you generate an Xcode project.

pwa development

Step 3. Test

At the final stage of placing the progressive web app in the iOS App Store, the application needs to be tested and reviewed. You can do this using the Test Flight tool on an iOS device (but via iTunes Connect) or with the help of professional developers. Also, before submitting a project to the marketplace, Xcode warns of possible errors in the application. The check itself can take 1-2 days.

Despite the fact that the Google Play Store was the first marketplace that allowed the publication of PWA in its open spaces, certain requirements are still put forward for the placement of web applications. To host a PWA in the Google Play Store, you need to take a few mandatory steps:

  1. Packaging of a progressive web app. Use Trusted Web Activity (TWA) to package your PWA components.
Trusted Web Activity

Using it, you can import the project into Android Studio and make the necessary changes.

  1. APK verification. At this stage, you need to create a keystore using Android Studio: in the Build menu, select the Generate Signed Package / APK field and fill in all the required fields.
  2. Setting up Digital Asset Link. This stage involves confirming ownership of the PWA. To do this, you need to extract the statement file and, on its basis, create a file with information from the Digital Asset Tool, and open access to it on shared hosting.
  3. Create and publish PWA to Google Play store. To do this, just follow these steps:
  • select the "All applications" field and press the "Create application" button;
  • create an internal test in the Application Releases section;
  • sign the APK using the keystore you extracted earlier;
  • upload PWA to Google Play using the "Release Applications" section;
  • fill out an ad in the store.

After all the fields are filled in and add PWA to Google Play, the application will become available to a wide range of users in a few hours.

Just like the Google Play Store, the Microsoft Store is pretty open to progressive web apps. Moreover, according to the management team of Microsoft, the future of the world of technology lies in PWA.

However, at this level of development of the marketplace, in order to host a PWA to Microsoft store application, several mandatory steps must be taken:

Step 1. 

Create a fallback name for the app to help identify your PWA. You can do this in the "App Identity" field by filling in all required fields.

Step 2. 

Create a functional AppX package. It is required to publish applications on the marketplace. To simplify the process, you can use the PWABuilder tools. In particular, it can be used to:

  • create a manifest suitable for PWAs that were not specifically developed for the Microsoft Store;
  • create service workers if they have not been integrated into the framework of the progressive web application;
  • create an AppX file by filling in the required fields and downloading the .appx package.

Step 3. 

Upload the app to the Microsoft Store using the files from the previously created folder.

Microsoft Store

It contains all the necessary files for placing the application on the marketplace. After completing all the steps, the Send to Store button will light up - this means that the PWA is ready for verification. After passing the certification, the application will be available to users.

As you can see, submitting a PWA to Microsoft Store does not require any special knowledge of web development - the interface itself tells you what to do.

Despite the fact that progressive applications are becoming more popular, the question of their availability for a large number of users remains open. PWA on the app store remains the most effective way to promote. However, not all popular online platforms are suitable for this purpose. Thus, the Microsoft store and the Google App store are considered the most friendly to new applications - just a few simple steps are needed to host an application. But for users of iOS devices, this opportunity is not yet available - the Apple App Store is zealous for ensuring that all applications comply with its standards.

PWAOctober 4, 2021
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