The debate around the benefits of mobile web vs app is always an interesting, and often heated, one. One clear benefit that apps have over web is that they support push notifications and so offer a way to reconnect with users when they’re not actively engaged. Mobile web does not have this benefit, because mobile browsers do not support notifications. Until now, that is.
Thanks to Chrome 42 (released last month) there’s now a browser out there that supports push notifications over the web, something developers and site owners have been eagerly awaiting.
Traditionally, users have had to install an app to receive any kind of out-of-page notification. The W3C Standards Push API and Notification API have been designed to solve this issue by providing a way for browsers to listen to push messages and trigger notifications.
This is a huge development for mobile websites because of the prominence of notifications in the mobile ecosystem. Native app installation is no longer the only solution to the need for push notifications.
iPhone users should expect to see this functionality soon too, since desktop Safari already supports notifications. It’s hard to imagine why Apple wouldn’t roll this out to iOS.
We might not see too many sites using these APIs for a while until the standards, which are still working drafts, are properly ratified and more browsers offer support. However, some sites with a strong business case for notifications may begin rolling them out very soon, so watch this space.