Progressive Web Apps

Shouldn’t web apps behave like real apps?

That is a goal of Progressive Web Apps (PWA). Google, Microsoft, maybe Apple and Mozilla and some other companies are working on a new, modern web application standard so web apps act more like  native apps. (Apple is adding PWA features to the Safari browser.)

They are still hosted directly on a website, but the advantage is that developers can update them directly on their web server without submitting those updates to several different app stores. And the same app should run on all browsers and platforms.

The “progressive” part means they are enhanced with modern web features. They would work in older browsers that don’t support the new features, but will work better and with more features in modern browsers. They will get their own window and shortcut on your taskbar (on Windows 10 and anything running Chrome) or an icon on your home screen (on Android devices and other smartphones).

Unlike Google’s Chrome Packaged Apps or Microsoft’s Hosted Web Apps, these do not have to be packaged as a file and submitted to an app store. But PWAs can be listed in app stores for easier discovery and installation, though the store will just point to the web app’s servers. screenshot

Example from



What Facebook Thinks You Like

I came across this Chrome browser extension that allows you to see how Facebook collects your data.

It can only use data on what categories Facebook has placed you in (not identifiable information or cookies, for example) but the name of the category, the I.D. number Facebook gives it internally, some other subcategories and your logged reaction to the category.

There are so many questions, rumors and concerns about social media and the Internet concerning privacy and data collection that this seems very relevant. I know that amongst my own friends and students there is a lack of knowledge about what is collected and how it is collected when you’re online, but there are a lot of negative feelings about it.

Most people know that sites want to determine your ad preferences and use data and tracking to figure out which ads might be relevant and useful to you. They don’t do it to be nice to you – although if I have to see an ad I would rather it have some relevance – but because advertisers want to know their ads are getting to the correct people.

Your Facebook profile information and interactions with friend and businesses influences the ads you see. It is not so different from targeting ads from before the Internet Age. Demographic information—such as age, gender and location have always been important. But we voluntarily give so much more information (even if unconsciously) by our thousands of clicks and activities online that targeting is much more refined.




When you use the “What Facebook Thinks You Like” app offered by propublicasocial, you’ll see how your interests in people, travel, news etc. help determine the ads you will see.