Progressive Web Apps, Artificial Intelligence, the next App Boom

3 minute read

The app boom started in July 2008, when Apple introduced the App Store. In previous years while developers were making apps, there were still people that download these apps.

But that too has changed since the number of average smartphone users that download apps have plummeted, according to an article by Recode the growth is not like what it used to be. An example of less growth can be seen here.

This graph represents the total number of downloads each major app has had in 2015 and 2016. This research has proved that the number of people that are downloading mobile apps is declining. Taking that into account, we must reconsider an alternative to mobile apps. Recently in the web app world, there has been a contender that might be able to end the 2008 App Boom once and for all, Progressive Web Apps. According to a post from Hackernoon, a Progressive Web App is an app that is able to look and react like a native mobile app, this is achieved with APIs on modern browsers that make native mobile app features such as a full-screen application or push notifications possible. On top of that these web apps are extremely lightweight, the installation process is also easy, and users don’t even need to update their PWAs because the app doesn’t have a middle man like an app store to manage application versions, the apps would just update as soon as users connect to the internet. With these advantages, PWAs are a great danger to mobile apps and their future.

But there is another player in this stage, artificial intelligence has taken a huge leap forward in terms of usability in recent years. With the help of deep learning, the possibilities for AI are boundless. Just a decade ago AI can only process words, now AI can do face recognition. A feature that was only available through science fiction, writing AI programs today are also easier because AI libraries are getting more frequent. Fun fact, currently there is an AI library that is written in Javascript, Tensorflow.js. On the 2018 TensorFlow Dev Summit, Google developers showed a demo of a Tensorflow.js app an emoji scavenger hunt app, users are prompt to find items in around them that corresponds to the emoji showed in the app.

This evolves the way we think about web apps. According to an article from Forbes, we are currently in the midst of a new revolution, Industry 4.0 whereas previously computers were added to help humans complete simple tasks. Now we are developing technologies that are able to connect with each other and make decisions without human involvement. Imagine an entire industry running with only machines and a connection to the web.

Now you might be wondering, how does this correlate with the 2008 App Boom. This will affect even our daily lives. For example imagine computers ordering car parts for a company because the computer realized the current stock is not sufficient all of this without human involvement, this is a new step for all of us to keep relevant. With the complicated PWA APIs, and the development of AI a new app boom is imminent, but not an app being used by humans. It will be developed for the purpose of computers communicating with each other. In my opinion, the flow of future apps will be as follows: AI will be used for processing any kind of input the computer receives, and with sophisticated APIs, it will send commands to other computers to complete its’ tasks. With AI libraries that are compatible with modern frameworks making this possible.