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Have you ever wanted to create an app for your communications?

I hear questions about building apps, even more so with people working from home and working remotely these days. There is a problem though, the discussion stops once people realize you have to write the app in multiple languages for different devices, take into account different screen sizes, generate different assets for each platform, and more. Once you get through all the hoops, it needs to be packaged and submitted to the different app stores so end users can install it. There is no guarantee that the app you created will be approved, or when. All of this increases the complexity, and ultimately the cost. There has to be a better way.

 

Creating apps has changed, in a big way – Progressive Web Applications

What is a Progressive Web Application (PWA)? According to Wikipedia – “A progressive web application (PWA) is a type of application software delivered through the web, built using common web technologies including HTML, CSS and JavaScript.

  • It is intended to work on any platform that uses a standards-compliant browser.
  • Functionality includes working offline, push notifications, and device hardware access
  • There is no requirement for developers or users to install the web apps via digital distribution systems like Apple App Store or Google Play. Publication of a progressive web app is as it would be for any other web page.

As with other cross-platform solutions, the goal is to help developers build cross-platform apps more easily than they would with native apps. According to Google Developers, the characteristics of a PWA are:

  • Progressive — Works for every user, regardless of browser choice, using progressive enhancement principles.
  • Responsive — Fits any form factor: desktop, mobile, tablet, or forms yet to emerge.
  • Faster after initial loading — After the initial loading has finished, the same content and page elements do not have to be re-downloaded each time.
  • Connectivity independent — Service workers allow offline uses, or on low quality networks.
  • App-like — Feels like an app to the user with app-style interactions and navigation.
  • Fresh — Always up-to-date due to the service worker update process.
  • Safe — Served via HTTPS to prevent snooping and ensure content was not tampered with.
  • Discoverable — Identifiable as an “application” by manifest.json and service worker registration, and discoverable by search engines.
  • Re-engageable — Ability to use push notifications to maintain engagement with the user.
  • Installable — Provides homescreen icons without the use of an App Store.
  • Linkable — Can easily be shared via a URL, and does not require complex installation.

 

Ok.. you lost me, PWA? What can I do with this?

Using Arreya, you can make your own interactive content that can be used on any device. We have always done that. With the addition of PWA features, your users or administrator can now install your channel as an app – on mobile, laptop, or desktop.

School Message Covid19 For Digital Signage

School Message Covid19 For Digital Signage

 

What does this mean?

Arreya has had the ability to build interactive content from day 1. Our original use case is centered around making tools so clients can easily create and update their own interactive content. What we are seeing now is the technology catching up to the dream of what is possible. With these new technologies Arreya’s interactive features and unique distribution model make it so you can now build and distribute your own apps. No coding, you can do it all yourself. If you get stuck, our free support is here to help. We even have designers on staff if you need a custom template or help getting started.

 

So how new is all this? I thought we were already doing this?

The idea has been around for some time, but creating the standards and getting everyone on board has taken even more time. We are talking about changing what we think of as apps, while extending what the web can do, so there needs to be a plan and buy-in from the major players, browsers, and operating systems. Everything we are discussing here is going through or has gone through the standards process to become an international specification and standard, often championed by large companies you already know like Google and Microsoft.

From Wikipedia
“In 2015, designer Frances Berriman and Google Chrome engineer Alex Russell coined the term “progressive web apps” to describe apps taking advantage of new features supported by modern browsers, including service workers and web app manifests, that let users upgrade web apps to progressive web applications in their native operating system (OS). Google then put significant efforts into promoting PWA development for Android. With Apple’s introduction of service worker support for Safari in 2017, PWAs were now supported on the two most commonly-used mobile operating systems, Android and iOS.”

Digital Signage viewing on phones

 

Finally! We have all been waiting for this for a long time.

One of our core philosophies from years ago when we began Arreya was to leverage existing open standards to create and distribute digital content. The web looked like the perfect platform, even with some gaps between the web and what native apps could do. For over 5 years we have been writing software exclusively for the web, closely following along with developing technologies like beacons, service workers, offline compatibility, push notifications, web serial communications, and Progressive Web Apps. We have actively followed this path for some time now, and it is baked into our product, so we were able to easily extend Arreya to take advantage of these emerging technologies today. Even better, the auto update system makes it so you already have these features available today.

 

Arreya adds features to use this new technology.

Progressive Web Application Settings in Arreya Digital Signage

Progressive Web Application Settings in Arreya Digital Signage

To take advantage of this new technology we have already pushed out new features.  Every Arreya channel is also a PWA that can be added to the home screen like a native app, today.

With Arreya’s new PWA features you can choose –

  • Title
  • Description
  • Icon
  • Branding Color

See our knowledge base for more information

 

 

 

But wait…there’s more

Private Link Sharing Settings in Arreya Digital Signage

Private Link Sharing Settings in Arreya Digital Signage

We have also created another feature, Private Link Sharing, because many of our users have private content.  Enable link sharing to generate a unique private link to your content. Only people with this link can view it remotely. No need to create users for each person, just send out the unique link to your users.  Your displays will run as normal, and your users who may be remote or working from home can now view the content as well.  This works great for creating a private interactive channel, just for remote users.  You can also set devices to use this as the home page, or push out the PWA as an installed app on the devices.  Find more information about link sharing here in our knowledgebase.

 

To make it even easier to start today, we added additional templates for PWA, remote worker, and work from home use cases

To use one of our new templates –

  1. Log in to your Arreya Channel or Sign Up for a free trial
  2. Click “Content”, then “Presentations” on the dashboard menu
  3. Click the green [+ New Presentation] button
  4. Choose “Template”
  5. Select a template by clicking on it
  6. Enter a name for the new presentation
  7. Click Finish

 

We have already launched several new templates over the last few weeks and will be adding more.

Work From Home Digital Signage Template

Work From Home Digital Signage Template

Work From Home Digital Signage Template