They led the field which included seven other teams from regional tech companies and startups.

SPH Digital | June 8, 2017

SINGAPORE – A four-man team from SPH Digital bagged the top prize at the Google PWA/AMP Hackathon held on May 16 at the Google Asia Pacific at Mapletree Business City.

They led the field which included seven other teams from regional tech companies and startups in the food, transportation, home renovation and mobile app development industries.

The hackathon was a follow-up to the Google Mobile Academy event in April, where organisations were invited to deploy a working prototype of Progressive Web Apps (PWA) and/or Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP).  These two technologies were also extensively featured at the 2017 Google I/O in May.

The Straits Times Agile Tech team, which comprises Pabbineedi Venkata Harsha Vardhan, Ken Chua Wah Soon, Prem Kumar Kailasu and Venkadesh Kumar Chinnama Naidu, was the only team at the Hackathon who created a prototype that combined PWA and AMP.

This will make the paper’s website perform better on mobile devices, especially Android ones. With this, the site’s digital readers will enjoy the best user experience when accessing it on their mobile devices.

PWAs take advantage of new features supported by modern browsers so that web apps, which link straight to the content they link to, can feel more like an actual app and not just a tab.  Websites will load faster and can work even without any network connection.

Mr Chua said: “Being in The Straits Times Agile team, we are passionate to explore ways to always improve on our Straits Times product. Hence, we took up the challenge to PWA and AMP-ify our current ST website.”

The teams were judged according to the number of implementations within PWA/AMP that were accomplished, quality of implementations done as shown through a demo, the amount of progress made from the state the current site was on, as well as the Lighthouse score out of 100, of which SPH scored 95 out of 100. Lighthouse is a popular tool used to diagnose the quality of Progressive Web Apps.

Of their win, Mr Chua said: “We were equally encouraged by (the judges’) enthusiasm, and also at the fruit of our labour –  a website that loads in less than 3 seconds, and offers offline browsing capability.”

The panel of judges from Google comprises Manan Mehta, APAC Solutions Engineering Manager; Kumar Gaurav, IN/SEA Technical Specialist; Gloria Wee, APAC Senior Business Manager; and Minh Nguyen,  SEA Mobile Solutions Manager.

Mr Julian Tan, Head of SPH Digital, said: “This win shows the commitment SPH Digital has in exploring what can be done with the latest technologies to ensure that our digital products are always stable, secure, and at the top of its class.”