Only 37% of PWAs implement service workers - A quick review of the PWA ecosystem

Presenting some data and insights derived from
Last updated on November 2, 2023
| Software Engineer

Every day, PWABuilder analyzes thousands of PWAs. This gives us unique visibility about current trends in PWAs based on how developers use PWAs features. In this article, we present insights gathered from a 3-month snapshot of analyzed PWAs on (Aug 2023 – Oct 2023).
During this period, we recorded a total of 11,064 unique URLs that went through the flow of PWABuilder. That’s a lot of Progressive Web Apps!
Manifests and service workers are the heart and soul of a PWA. They distinguish your PWA from being just another website. A manifest defines how your PWA looks and behaves when installed on a device. Service workers are essentially JavaScript workers that run in the background and are used for features like notifications, offline support, background sync, and many more. They can also be used just to fetch data from APIs for the website or pretty much hold any logic that needs to run on the site.

Learn more about manifests and service workers from our documentation.

Service Worker Analysis

Out of the 11064 PWAs, about 4140 (37%) of them had service workers that were detected by our site.

A pie chart that shows the number of PWAs with and without service workers

What does this tell us? Well, for one thing, it shows that there is a lot of interest and potential in building PWAs, as evidenced by the large number of URLs that came to PWABuilder. However, it also reveals that there is a gap between the desire to create PWAs and the actual implementation of the core PWA features. Only about 37% of the PWAs had service workers, which means that majority of them are missing out on the benefits of offline support, push notifications, background sync, and more. It is also a fair argument that not all PWAs need all of these features. Lately a lot of the major browsers have done away with mandating service workers for installability which could also mean developers see less value in building and maintaining service workers unless there is a business reason to use them.

Manifests and app capabilities

While service workers are optional in a PWA, the web manifest is not. They hold a lot of crucial information that is needed for the PWA to behave more app-like such as icons, file handlers, link handlers and so much more. Of the 11064 URLs, about 58% (6417) of them had a detected manifest.

A graph of the number of PWAs that have each app capability enabled

We took 6 of the app capabilities into account to try and analyze how often they are being used in PWAs these days.
A quick description of all of these capabilities:

Insights from the data

Parting thoughts

From the data, it seems like overall, developers are showing interest in adding app capabilities to improve the native-like experience of their PWA. As a developer, it’s also important to understand and use these capabilities consciously only where it makes sense and avoid feature overload. Apps like this music player PWA are great examples of how to use app capabilities. This app has used many of the capabilities, not only the ones listed above but others as well (handle_links, edge_side_panel, display_override). It’s always great to find PWAs built by developers in the community that exemplify what a great app-like experience can be!

If you’d like to know more about the data or are curious about any insights that are not presented here, feel free to let us know on our Discord!

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Author Profile

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Amrutha Srinivasan @amruthasrin

Software Engineer working on making Windows the best developer platform out there!