Google’s Progressive Web Apps are about the make your Android app drawer much more interesting.
Progressive Web Apps are basically a mix between a mobile site and mobile app that gives users a native app like experience right from Chrome. If you’re browsing in Chrome on Android and come across a Progressive Web App, Chrome will prompt you to save the app to your home screen through a menu option called “Add to Home”. This essentially creates an icon on your home screen and in your app drawer just like a native app from the Google Play store. Using the Add to Home function also enables web push notifications, local caching and other app-like enhanced Android specific functionality. These apps are said to load instantly, respond better to user interaction and provide a more immersive experience when compared to a standard mobile web site. They even load when you’re offline. “This new Add to Home screen feature is one more step in our journey to empower developers to build the best possible experience for their users, and we are committed to ensuring the same mechanisms for installing Progressive Web Apps are available to all browsers on Android,” wrote Google’s Yaron Friedman in the Chromium Blog today.
The intentions here are clear. Google wants mobile web to dominate the mobile browsing experience and enabling Progressive Web Apps are way to push this agenda forward. They want users to be able to browse and use apps just like they currently use websites. This type of user flow is preferable because it requires users to use Chrome and Google Search to discover content they’re looking for. It’s difficult the browse and search apps because they’re not all linked together and searchable via Google Search. Progressive Web Apps are also a bit different than Google’s other app strategy, Instant Apps. Instant Apps let’s users stream apps without pre-downloading them which lessens the reliance on app stores like Google Play and the Apple App store. The combination of Progressive Web Apps and Instant Apps will make app usage more like mobile web usage.