Opera, Google Partner to Drive Progressive Web Apps

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Emma Okonji

With over 350 million users of Opera web browser per month, among which 21 million are from Nigeria, Opera said it is targeting to raise the global number of users on its Opera web browser to one billion anytime soon.

To achieve its target, Opera, last week in Lagos, announced its partnership with Google to drive Progressive Web Apps for the growing population of Opera web browser users.

Currently, Nigeria has the largest population of users of Opera web browser in Africa and the third largest user globally.

Announcing the new partnership deal with Google that is expected to enhance the accessibility and usability of Progressive Web Apps for mobile phone users, Android Product Manager and Development Relations Lead at Opera, Mr. Andreas Bovens said the initiative would result in considerable data savings for users.

Addressing journalists, after a recent Progressive Web Apps (PWA) roadshow in Lagos, Bovens said cost of internet access is still on the high side, even though the cost is gradually being reviewed downwards. He explained that the high cost forced most Nigerians to be more cautious when downloading apps, and they have since developed a new trend of ‘side-load’ apps from laptops and desktop computers, from where they install it to their mobile phones. According to him, PWAs provide the convenience of an app, including push notifications, along with faster speed and offline support, without incurring the data cost. “PWAs also take up less storage space than traditional applications, making them ideal for use with smartphones,” Bovens said.

Unlike normal apps that often require access to personal information before launching, PWAs only request such permission when needed, thus allowing users to better control their privacy, Bovens added.

Explaining the high cost of internet access in Nigeria and how PWAs was designed to allow users download more apps at reduced cost, Bovens said although mobile internet penetration in Nigeria currently stood at 94 per cent, the cost of data continues to be a significant barrier to internet access, which means Nigeria would have surpassed 94 per cent mobile internet penetration and broadband penetration, which is currently put at 10 per cent, if cost of data bandwidth was cheap. He however explained that PWAs could address the issue of high cost data bandwidth and internet access, since it delivers an app-like user experience.

“PWAs offer a great new way for developers and business in Nigeria to reach users right in the web browser, without requiring them to download additional apps,” Bovens said, adding that the PWAs technology will shape Nigeria’s mobile internet space in the coming years.

Opera, known for its mobile and desktop browsers, including Opera Mini, enable more than 350 million internet users worldwide to connect with the content and services that matter most to them. Recent updates in Opera Mini include the blocking of unnecessary data, heavy web ads, a video booster that allows online videos to load quicker and a feature enabling users to download videos from top video and social media websites for later viewing offline.

Bovens joined the Opera team in 2007, specialising in products and development roles over the years. He has worked on several major improvements relating to data savings and user friendliness of Opera for Android products and has also been instrumental in projects aimed at monetisation, through partner deals and advertising.