Maximize Your Mobile Experience:
Mastering Progressive Web App iOS Integration in 2024

iOS is still an important part of the mobile market.

Exploring the potential of progressive web apps on your iPhone or iPad? Whether you’re a user or developer, our guide demystifies the integration process of a progressive web app iOS ecosystem where it thrives and the hurdles it faces. Discover how to enhance your device’s abilities with PWAs, their swift, app-like functionality, and anticipate the limitations of iOS. Prepare for straightforward guidance on setting up your first PWA on an iOS device and tips for overcoming iOS-specific challenges ahead.

Key Takeaways

  • Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) on iOS deliver an app-like experience with benefits including speed, offline capabilities, and ease of installation, though they face limitations like Safari-only support.
  • Developers can enhance the PWA experience on iOS by optimizing for offline support and full-screen mode and by using the Web API and service workers to emulate native app features and maintain functionality without an internet connection.
  • The support of iOS Push notifications closes the technical gap between the other platforms and increases user engagement.
  • PWAs are cross-platform, working across various devices and browsers, and offer businesses increased engagement and conversion rates, with successful implementations by companies like Starbucks, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Understanding Progressive Web Apps on iOS

Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) have come a long way since their debut with the iOS 11.3 release. When the first iPhone was launched, there was no App Store. Safari was the only web browser available, and users could save a website's icon on their home screen for easy access. Although this was not yet a PWA, it was a similar concept. Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) are not just regular websites, but rather combine web platform technologies such as HTML, CSS, and JavaScript to provide an enhanced user experience. The key files for the PWA are the Manifest and the Service Worker. But what makes them unique? Their key distinguishing feature is the ability to offer a user experience similar to native mobile apps.

There are numerous benefits to using PWAs on iOS, including:

  • Lightning-fast speed
  • Offline capabilities
  • Browser accessibility
  • Easy installation
  • Cross-platform functionality
  • Customizable app icon on your home screen
  • Push Notification
  • Cross Browser Installation

Previously, PWAs on iOS had limitations such as exclusive support of Safari up to version 16.4 and no support of push messages.

The Basics of Progressive Web App Technology

Progressive Web App (PWA) iOS

What is the true definition of a Progressive Web App (PWA)? A PWA is a website designed to simulate the user experience of a native mobile app. It employs technologies such as Service Workers and Web App Manifests to offer a seamless app-like experience by leveraging mobile device capabilities. One of the standout features of a PWA is its ability to function offline. PWAs store crucial resources in the cache during installation, which can be retrieved by service workers as needed, ensuring uninterrupted user experience across various in-app browsers.

Just like native apps, PWAs on iOS promptly display push notifications to users. To ensure proper display of app icons and other PWA features, developers need to:

  • Create a web application manifest that provides the browser vital information about the app.
  • Replicate app-like features by delivering an immersive, full-screen user experience akin to native apps.
  • Service Worker controls to ensure smooth functionality, including offline usage and deleting the Cache by taking the action "Pull to refresh."

How PWAs Enhance User Experience on Mobile Devices

To mimic native applications, PWAs integrate features like:

  • Quick load times
  • Offline operations
  • App-like interactions
  • Push notifications
  • Device feature accessibility
  • Cross Browser Installation

These features enhance the overall user experience. For instance, PWAs employ cache-first networking and adaptive loading strategies to optimize load times on mobile devices, delivering tangible performance improvements and a more responsive interface.

A major benefit of PWAs is their capacity to efficiently use device resources, leading to better performance and less storage space usage on the user’s device. This efficiency contributes to a superior user experience compared to the resource-intensive nature of native applications.

Moreover, PWAs have been shown to decrease data consumption by 80% in comparison to native mobile apps, making them a favorable choice for individuals with restricted data plans or residing in regions with inadequate connectivity.

Setting Up Your First Progressive Web App on iPhone

Install PWA with Safari on iOS - Cross Browser Support

The first step in your PWA journey involves adding the web application to your iPhone’s home screen. The process is relatively straightforward. You just have to:

  1. Open Safari or Chrome
  2. Navigate to the website of your desired PWA
  3. Tap the ‘Share’ button
  4. Select ‘Add to Home Screen’ from the share options
  5. And voila! Your new PWA is ready to be launched directly from your home screen. Unfortunately, no A2HS Popup support is available for a better install experience. One possible solution would be to display a banner containing the installation instructions.

    But the journey doesn’t stop there. Providing offline support is essential for an improved user experience. This can be achieved by setting the appropriate paths for offline assets such as JS, CSS, and HTML pages and integrating a service worker into the PWA’s code.

    Ensuring Full-Screen Mode

    Full-screen mode is another feature that can enhance the user experience. On iOS means the Fullscreen Mode the Standalone Mode. By using the following HTML tag, iOS becomes a fullscreen app.

    <meta name="apple-mobile-web-app-status-bar-style" content="black-translucent">

    Remove unnecessary meta tags

    Previously, various meta tags were necessary to create fullscreen mode on iOS, but iOS 16.4 and later versions no longer require these tags and instead pulls all necessary information from the manifest. Removing unnecessary meta tags can prevent unexpected changes in the appearance of a webpage at the look on different browsers.

     <meta name="apple-mobile-web-app-capable" content="yes">
    <meta name="apple-mobile-web-app-title" content="Status Bar">

    It is (still) recommended to use Apple Touch Icon

    Starting from iOS 15.4, it is optional to implement the Apple Touch Icon. However, even though the current iOS version is 16.4, it is still recommended to set the icon. The recommended size for the icon is 180px, and it can be integrated as follows. On newer iOS versions, the icon is pulled from the browser manifest and should be at least 512px in size.

    Fullscreen mode eliminates browser navigation, so it's important to ensure users don't get lost.

    Navigating the Limitations of PWAs on iOS Devices

    Despite their myriad advantages, PWAs on iOS do come with certain limitations. These limitations encompass aspects such as:

    • Safari-only support
    • A data usage cap of 50MB
    • Lack of access to native components
    • Restricted storage access
    • does not support background sync

    Each limitation can impact the user experience of PWAs on iOS devices.

    To make Progressive Web Apps (PWA) work smoothly on iOS, it is important to have a good understanding of the iOS platform and the challenges it presents for PWA development. Testing the PWA on iOS, including push notifications, is crucial to fix any compatibility issues. Furthermore, it is recommended that thorough testing on different iOS devices and browsers be performed to ensure optimal performance and compatibility.

    Cross-browser support for installing Progressive Web Apps (PWA) on Apple devices.

    Install PWA with Safari on iOS - Cross Browser Support

    Previously, only Safari was capable of installing and operating Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) on iOS devices. However, after the release of iOS Version 16.4, Cross Browser support for PWAs was introduced. Unfortunately, with the release of iOS 17.4 beta in the European Union, no browser is now able to install PWA apps, including Safari. 

    It seems like PWAs have been completely disabled.

    Overcoming PWA Challenges on Apple Devices

    The iOS operating system places several restrictions on progressive web apps, such as:

    • Exclusive Safari support until iOS Version 16.3
    • A 50MB data usage cap
    • Inaccessible native components
    • weak Service Worker
    • support of Web APIs is limited

    These limitations arise from the restrictive nature of the operating system, which hinders access to iOS-specific features such as ARKit, Bluetooth, iMessage, FaceTime, and other native integrations.

    Underperforming service workers on iOS hinder the ability of PWAs to run efficiently in the background and result in inconsistencies in storage management. This leads to suboptimal performance on iOS devices. However, developers can address these limitations by:

    • Optimizing the PWAs specifically for the quirks of iOS
    • Ensuring proper display of app icons
    • Fixing the 50 MiB cache limit of the Safari web browser with other solutions

    Capability of the WEB, especially iOS

    Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) have access to a wide range of Web APIs that enable them to provide a native app-like experience to users. These APIs include the likes of the Camera API, Geolocation API, and many more. Additionally, when a PWA is installed on a device, it gains access to a few extra unavailable APIs when the app is accessed through a web browser. These extra APIs include the Web Share API, Badging API, and others, which can further enhance the functionality and usability of your PWA. To check which API is available for iOS users, check "What Web Can Do Today", Can I Use or simply use MDN.

    The challenges for unsupported web services could be a reason for a native app. Depending on the requirements, you must decide which is best for you, between features and development costs.

    The Future of Web Applications on iOS

    With expected enhancements in Progressive Web Apps, the future of web applications on iOS appears bright. Future iOS releases are expected to incorporate PWA features such as home screen integration and functionalities such as camera access, AR and VR projection, geolocation, Bluetooth connectivity, and speech recognition.

    Adding new features in Progressive Web Apps could considerably enhance the user experience on iOS. Not only do PWAs offer a smooth, user-centric experience directly from the browser, but they’re also lightweight and data-efficient. This leads to a quicker and more responsive experience on iOS devices.

    Recent advancements in PWA technology, such as improved push notifications, enhanced offline capabilities, and overall better app performance, are set to enrich the iOS experience.

    PWA Features That Could Revolutionize iOS Usage

    Improvements in background synchronization and a significantly larger memory could bring considerable benefits to both users and developers of iOS devices. With improved background operation in PWAs, the functionality of native iOS apps can be replicated, enabling users to receive real-time updates and notifications. The larger memory would be a basic requirement, and it can enhance the user experience by providing access to live data and offline access.

    Anticipated improvements in features such as smooth scrolling, pinch-to-zoom, and swipe gestures are expected to significantly enhance the native app-like experience on iOS, making PWAs feel more integrated into the iOS ecosystem. Furthermore, the potential to have a single codebase for both iOS and Android platforms could lead to cost reduction in development and maintenance, efficient updates, and decreased entry barriers for app development. An important PWA function of iOS is web push notifications, which are the next topic.

    Supports PWA Push Notifications for iOS users, the wait was over

    With the advancement of web technology , iOS has adopted these capabilities, which enable push notifications to be sent to iPhone, iPad, and desktop devices running MacOS. This integration is a significant milestone for Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) on Apple devices, as it brings them closer to the level of functionality of native applications. The Web Push Notification API is supported for an installed PWA on iOS from version 16.4 and later. Push notifications for websites are supported on MacOS 13 and above, specifically on Safari version 16. Utilizing  Service Worker  standards and the Notifications API, developers can implement web push notifications, increasing user engagement and ensuring that critical information reaches users promptly. Support for push notifications has increased PWA usage, as many companies had decided against a PWA because push notifications were not supported.

    Apple's Safari browser has historically had limited support for certain PWA features compared to its counterparts. However, recent updates signify a shift towards a more inclusive approach for web apps on iOS devices, signaling a positive change for developers and users alike. This enhancement in support champions the seamless operation of PWAs on the iOS platform and underscores the importance of a consistent and reliable user experience across different browsers and devices.

    Badge Icon for Push Notifications

    The badge icon signals to the user that there are still unread messages, a subtle yet effective reminder that prompts user engagement. The badge API is implemented in the plugin miTT PWA FIRE PUSH and miTT PWA for WP, offering website owners to have it without configuration. This feature is particularly useful for any application where notifications play a crucial role in the user experience. In the fast-paced world we live in, staying up-to-date with the latest information is important, and the badge icon serves as a visual cue for users to revisit the app. For a quick demonstration of how push messages, including the badge icon, work in a real-world scenario, take a look at this YouTube short where these features are showcased in action.

    Integrating PWAs with Other Platforms and Browsers

    PWAs aren’t exclusive to iOS. Their seamless operation across various platforms and devices, including smartphones and tablets, and the convenience of direct access from the browser makes them a versatile tool. This cross-platform functionality is achieved using standard web platform technologies, ensuring compatibility with various operating systems.

    PWAs provide benefits such as speed and offline functionality, whereas native apps offer superior integration with device features. The choice between a PWA and a native app depends on the specific needs of the user or business. The Chrome browser engines offer the most comprehensive support for Progressive Web Apps (PWA) and are equipped with the most features. This is because Google and Microsoft generate revenue from the advertisements displayed on search engines, and PWAs are also available in search results. On the other hand, native apps are not discoverable through searches.

    When it comes to browser compatibility, Google Chrome, Apple Safari, Firefox for Android, and Microsoft Edge offer full support for PWAs.

    Cross-Platform Benefits of Progressive Web Apps

    One of the benefits of Progressive Web Apps across various platforms is their seamless operation on multiple devices like smartphones and tablets. This is achieved through standard web platform technologies, which ensure compatibility with different operating systems.

    PWAs offer several benefits, including:

    • Diminishing the requirement for separate application development for each platform
    • Providing cross-platform compatibility, enabling a single PWA to operate on different devices and operating systems
    • Using a unified codebase for multiple platforms substantially saves development and maintenance expenses.

    The design of a Progressive Web App is crafted to seamlessly adjust across different platforms and devices, accommodating varying screen sizes and device capabilities to maintain a uniform user experience regardless of the user’s device.

    PWA Support Across Different Browsers

    Different browsers offer varying levels of support for PWAs. For instance, Safari and Firefox do not offer support for PWA installation on the desktop. However, they provide offline capabilities, although the user experience may differ. Google Chrome, on the other hand, offers comprehensive support for PWAs, including the ability to operate offline and deliver notifications.

    Developers can ensure optimal performance of PWAs across different browsers by implementing key strategies, utilizing appropriate tools, adhering to best practices, and thoroughly testing the app across various browsers and operating systems. This can help identify and resolve compatibility or performance issues, ensuring a seamless user experience regardless of the browser used.

    Enhancing Business Reach with Progressive Web Apps

    Progressive Web App (PWA) iOS

    Progressive Web App technology can significantly improve user experience, potentially leading to increased engagement and reduced bounce rates. Its ability to improve customer experience, lower costs, and operate across different platforms can enhance overall business performance. Additionally, PWAs are consistently updated with app-like expertise, responsiveness, and connectivity independence.

    PWAs enhance business performance on mobile devices through various means, including:

    • Boosting conversion rates
    • Ensuring compatibility across different mobile devices
    • Optimizing performance using techniques like caching and preloading
    • Delivering a seamless and captivating user experience
    • Providing advantages such as offline access and push notifications.

    Case Studies: Businesses Succeeding with PWAs

    Numerous leading companies, including:

    • Starbucks
    • Twitter
    • Tinder
    • Jumia
    • Alibaba
    • Flipkart
    • OLX
    • Spotify

    have successfully adopted Progressive Web Apps. These businesses have leveraged the power of PWAs to enhance user experience, improve engagement rates, and boost conversion rates. Google Maps is available both as a PWA and as a native app.

    Take Pinterest, for example. Implementing a Progressive Web App resulted in a significant 60% increase in user engagement metrics. Similarly, Book My Show experienced a noteworthy 80% surge in conversion rates after implementing a Progressive Web App.

    Starbucks’ PWA resulted in accelerated page loading and enhanced user interaction, particularly in regions with inconsistent internet connectivity, consequently boosting customer retention. Rakuten also experienced a notable increase in website traffic, repeat transactions, sales, and conversions following the transformation of their web app into a PWA.

    PWA App Store Optimization: Boosting discoverability and engagement

    With the ability to bypass traditional app stores, PWAs inherently challenge the status quo of app publication. However, there are clear benefits to distributing PWAs through app stores such as Microsoft Store, Google Play Store, and Apple App Store. Listing a PWA on these platforms can drastically increase visibility, credibility, and potentially the user base due to users' trust and familiarity with these platforms.

    While distributing PWAs via app stores, developers must often navigate unique store policies and technical guidelines. Platforms may have distinct requirements, such as specific metadata or packaging formats, that must be met for successful submission. Despite these hurdles, the process remains more streamlined than traditional apps, often without requiring any code changes to the PWA itself. This ease of access to app stores signifies a new era of digital distribution, where the line between native applications and web experiences continues to blur.

    To publish a Progressive Web App (PWA) to the Apple App Store, you must follow a series of steps to bridge the gap between web and native app experiences. Here's a high-level overview of the process:

    1. Prepare Your PWA: Ensure your PWA meets Apple's design and performance standards. This includes having a responsive design, working offline, and functioning like a native app.
    2. Create an App Store Connect Account: Sign up for an App Store Connect account, which is required to submit apps to the App Store.
    3. Configure Your PWA for iOSConfigure Your PWA for iOS: Utilize the PWA Builder to wrap your app, converting it into a format suitable for submission to the Apple App Store. This tool assists in packaging your PWA within a native app shell, thus enabling you to meet the requirements for iOS apps.
    4. Optimize PWA for App Store Submission: Make sure your PWA adheres to Apple's App Store Review Guidelines. This includes ensuring user privacy, providing a high-quality user interface, and integrating iOS features.
    5. Test Your PWA on iOS Devices: Before submission, thoroughly test your PWA on multiple iOS devices to ensure it functions correctly and provides a good user experience.
    6. Create an App Store Listing: Prepare metadata for your app listing, including the app's name, description, keywords, screenshots, and preview videos.
    7. Submit Your PWA to the App Store: Once ready, submit your PWA through App Store Connect for review. Apple will review your app to ensure it meets all guidelines.
    8. Monitor the Review Process: Apple will notify you of the progress of the review process and any issues that need addressing. Respond promptly to any feedback.
    9. Release Your PWA: After approval, set a release date for your PWA, and it will be available on the App Store for users to download and install.

    Remember, while PWAs offer many benefits, publishing them on the App Store requires additional steps to meet Apple's native app standards. This process can provide a broader reach and potentially increase user trust due to the App Store's credibility.

    Tips for Website Owners Using WordPress and Joomla

    To effectively create Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) for iOS using WordPress or Joomla, developers can leverage several strategies and tools tailored to these content management systems:

    For WordPress:

    • Use a plugin like miTT PWA for WP, which simplifies converting a WordPress website into a PWA by handling service workers, manifest files, and offline support.
    • Employ PWA-friendly themes, ensuring they are responsive and adhere to modern web standards.
    • Depends on the use case, take advantage of WordPress's REST API for fetching dynamic content and facilitating smooth interactions within the PWA.

    For Joomla:
    • Explore extensions such as miTT PWA Fire Push or miTT PWA for Joomla, which provide a straightforward way to implement PWA features like offline access and home screen installation.
    • Opt for templates optimized for performance and mobile use to enhance the PWA experience for users. The Standard Cassiopeia Template in Joomla 4 and Joomla 5 is a good example.
    • Use Joomla's built-in Web Services for better dynamic content loading and interactive user experiences.

    Both WordPress and Joomla developers should:
    • Focus on creating a user experience that mirrors native iOS applications, encouraging users to install the PWA by offering prompts and clear instructions. miTT PWA for WP and miTT PWA for Joomla have a notice banner to configure it.
    • Update content regularly to keep users engaged and ensure that the PWA remains relevant and valuable.
    • Implement a straightforward navigation structure, use lightweight fonts for faster loading, and ensure cross-browser functionality, including Safari on iOS.
    • Offer offline capabilities by setting up service workers to cache important assets and pages, allowing users to access content even without an internet connection.
    • Regularly analyze and minimize file sizes to reduce load times, and conduct thorough testing across different browsers and devices to ensure compatibility and performance.

    By following these tips, developers can optimize the performance and compatibility of PWAs on iOS devices, taking advantage of WordPress and Joomla's robust features and extensibility.

    Tools and Resources for PWA Developers

    These tools and frameworks aid in developing PWAs for iOS, helping developers streamline their workflow and improve the efficiency of their development process.

    Moreover, developers can access tutorials and documentation for PWA development on reputable online platforms such as:

    Google Lighthouse serves as a tool for auditing and validating the performance, accessibility, best practices, SEO, and PWA features of a PWA during its development.


    In conclusion, Progressive Web Apps are pioneering in web development and mobile experiences. Since iOS has supported Web Push Notifications since version 16.4, it makes more sense to transform websites into PWAs. This has closed the biggest gap between iOS and other better-supported browsers. By offering a blend of web and native app functionalities, PWAs have the potential to revolutionize the way businesses operate, improve user engagement, and enhance the iOS experience. As we look towards the future, with anticipated enhancements in PWAs and improved support across different browsers and platforms, the potential of PWAs on iOS seems promising. As developers, it’s time for us to embrace this opportunity and pave the way for a new era of web development. As a Joomla or WordPress website owner, useful tools such as miTT PWA make it possible to transform the website into a WordPress PWA or Joomla PWA. Unfortunately, version 17.4 beta brings with it a certain invisibility, as PWAs in the EU are now just a browser session instead of a PWA.

    Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

    Progressive Web Apps can now be installed on iOS through opt-in from other browsers and Safari. The platform has continued to evolve and improve.

    PWAs on iOS are limited to accessing up to 50 MB of storage, which may not be sufficient for larger applications. As a result, it's recommended to consider building a native iOS app or a cross-platform application for better performance.

    IOS fully supports PWA push notifications at (Web Push API) version 16.4 and later. The condition is that the PWA must be installed.

    A Progressive Web App (PWA) is a website that offers a user experience like a native mobile app, utilizing mobile device features. The service worker acts as a proxy, controls the requests and the manifest holds all the app information.

    To add a PWA to your iPhone's home screen, open the PWA website in Safari, tap the 'Share' button, and select 'Add to Home Screen' from the options.

    More articles about PWA (Progressive Web App)

    Progressive Web App indispensable for any website?

    A PWA offers many advantages over a classic website.


    Launch a Joomla PWA

    Realization of the Progressive Web App with push messages in Joomla for a local authority.


    15 tips for optimizing a PWA

    Here are 15 suggestions for enhancing a Progressive Web App (PWA) to deliver a seamless native app experience.


    Scope of a PWA

    The scope of the Progressive Web App can be defined when the service worker is registered.