Not long ago Flipkart drew flak from all corners after the e-commerce giant started forcing users to install the application when trying to access the site on mobile browser. Despite the flak, Flipkart persisted with the app install prompts for months as it intended to go app-only in the near future, akin to the approach it took with Myntra. While it looked Flipkart will stick to this strategy, the e-commerce giant surprised everyone by launching a Lite version of the site for Google Chrome. Why did Flipkart take the U-turn from its app-only approach for the future? How does the change impact you? What is Flipkart Lite, and how different it is from usual mobile version of the websites? We try to simplify these for you. Read on.
Flipkart Lite: A mobile site that looks like an app?
One of the basic fundamentals for any Lite version of any app or website is to be optimized for the slower networks. To achieve this, Flipkart deployed Service Workers that allows it to intercept network request and service a response from cache even when the user is offline.
While web apps solved the instant access problem, the network connectivity still plays a significant role in defining the web experience. There have been multiple attempts at enabling offline web apps in the past, such as AppCache and using LocalStorage/ IndexedDB. However, these solutions failed to model complex offline use cases described below, making it painful to develop and debug issues, explains Flipkart on its blog.
If you have tried out the Flipkart Lite site on your Chrome browser, you would have received a prompt to Add Flipkart to Homescreen . You can do so by tapping ‘:’ to bring up your browser menu, and select Add to homescreen to pin the Flipkart web app. Addition of a web app on the home page allows users to quickly launch the site. Flipkart creates a high-quality icon on the home screen that is based on the metadata in the Web Manifest.
Flipkart has made optimum use of Google tools to ensure the Lite replicates the app version with features such as push notifications and maintains consistent performance of the web app. We liked the minimal design language, which not only gives it good looks but also easy to navigate.
Flipkart Lite not only looks beautiful on the mobile site, but also manages to replicate the application with almost all major features. It loads faster and is easy to navigate.
New approach, but why?
We speculate there are multiple reasons behind it. One of the main reasons possibly could be the change in Google algorithm that is tightening noose around sites that prompt app install interstitial on a mobile device.
Here s what Google said: Our analysis shows that it is not a good search experience and can be frustrating for users because they are expecting to see the content of the web page. After November 1, mobile web pages that show an app install interstitial that hides a significant amount of content on the transition from the search result page will no longer be considered mobile-friendly. This does not affect other types of interstitials. As an alternative to app install interstitials, browsers provide ways to promote an app that are more user-friendly.
Google says the Flipkart Lite is first service that tap the Chrome tools fully. For both the companies, India is a big market where still a large number of people are accessing Internet on low-end smartphones. Compulsion to have an application may deprive Flipkart from tapping a huge demographic. For Google, it will allow more services that are looking to go app-only in the future to come with similar web apps for mobile devices that make optimum use of Chrome s mobile browser, which is competing against the likes of UC browser and other native browsers on different smartphones.
Why it should matter to you
If Flipkart Lite is successful, it will prompt more services to launch similar mobile web apps that don t suck a lot of resource of your smartphone. While multiple apps isn t much of a problem for mid-range and premium phone users, it becomes tad cumbersome on low-end phones to have that kind of load. If you are using a low-end smartphone, the likes of Flipkart Lite will allow you to have user experience as consistent as a native app.