Ask Paul: February 8 (Premium)

Happy Friday! This week’s questions run the gamut from PWAs to hardware to support life cycles to home swapping and more.
Why aren’t PWAs more widespread?
davidD asks:

If Apple start to (publicly) take PWA seriously, which it seems maybe they are starting to, will this be the catalyst that gets PWA off the ground? If so, why is the world still so reliant on Apple to do something before embracing it seriously. If not, what will it take?

I had expected a Progressive Web Apps (PWA) explosion last year, and I still feel that this is the right programming model for most mainstream apps that need to run on both the desktop and on mobile. (Increasingly, I feel like Flutter is the right approach for mobile-only, though I understand that Flutter is moving to the desktop too, which will be interesting.) The key to PWA’s success, I feel, is that its been embraced by the top platform makers on both the desktop (Microsoft, with Windows) and mobile (Google, with Android), and of course Google is pushing PWAs on Chrome OS as well.

So now Apple is jumping on board, belatedly as always: We should hear its formal plans at WWDC in June. But given how things have turned out so far, I’m not sure that Apple’s participation will make much of a difference. The issue is that PWA, like anything else that is new, is only rarely going to be used to transform existing apps, as it was with Twitter. Instead, it will be mostly used for new apps. And maybe that explains the slow uptick. I don’t know.

PWA is, in many ways, the opposite of Surface Go: It makes tons of sense and yet has only seen slow uptick. That doesn’t change my assessment of it, just as Go’s seemingly popularity doesn’t change my opinion that the device is garbage. But it is interesting.
millerkl61 asks:

The laptops pictured in your recent ‘Love Story' article (excellent post btw) reminded me of some of the battery issues I experienced with a few older era laptops. For example, some laptop batteries lost their ability to hold a charge sooner than I expected or wouldn’t hold as long of a charge if I frequently charged them well before they were depleted. Years ago, I used a laptop at my desk that I ALWAYS kept plugged in to AC power, which seemed to shorten its battery’s lifespan. How do today’s laptop batteries compare? Should we still avoid partial or over-charging? What do you think will be the next big breakthrough in laptop (and mobile) battery technology?

I’m not an expert here, but my understanding of battery technology is that it hasn’t really changed fundamentally from the time when those photos were taken. What has changed is that most laptop batteries are not user-changeable anymore, making them hard or even impossible to service. And that plays into a planned obsolescence strategy that Apple and various PC makers are very well aware of. These newer sealed portable computers are also much thinner and lighter as a result, so that’s ...

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