Google launched a new feature in Chrome 70 that allows users of the web browser to install Progressive Web Apps (PWA) in the browser.
Broken down to the core, Progressive Web Apps turn sites and services on the Internet into something that behaves more like applications. The approach has some benefits, e.g. that users can launch the apps from the operating system's desktop and even use the service offline provided that this is supported.
Offline support depends largely on the application and the functionality that it provides. A Notepad PWA should work fine offline while a service like Spotify or Twitter may not or only in limited capacities as they require access to the Internet to download data to the user device.
PWAs may also use functionality that the operating system provides. On Windows 10 for instance, apps may make use of the notification center of the operating system or follow certain rules and policies.
Note: Linux and Mac OS X users need to enable the chrome://flags/#enable-desktop-pwas policy in the browser by setting it to Enabled. Google plans to add default support for these systems in Chrome 72.
Google integrated Progressive Web Application support in Chrome 70 which the company released in October 2018. The implementation uses the simplest approach possible when it comes to the installation of PWAs.
All Chrome uses have to do is visit a page with a PWA, e.g. this note taking app, and click on Menu > Install AppName to install it.
Chrome loads the application in its own interface afterward and adds it to the operating system's list of installed applications. Windows 10 users find it listed in the Start Menu and can load it from there at any time.
Since it is listed in the Start Menu, it is possible to interact with the app just like you'd do with any other installed program or app.
Right-click on it for options to pin it to the Start Menu or Taskbar, to uninstall the app, run it with elevated privileges, or open its location on the system.
Chrome itself lists installed PWAs as well and provides users with management options. Google made the decision to integrate them with apps in the browser which means that you can display all installed PWA by loading chrome://apps/ in the browser's address bar.
You can launch any installed application with a click or tap on it. The right-click menu displays some options that you may find useful. There you find an option to remove the PWA from Chrome again, create a new shortcut for it, or deselect the "open as window" option to open it in a tab in the active browser window instead.
Chrome's PWA support works out of the box and is as simple as it gets. The biggest limitation of it at this point in time is that Google does not maintain a Store or repository for PWAs yet.
The company could add it to the Chrome Web Store but has not mentioned any plans to do so at the time of writing.
Chrome users who like PWA need to visit the exact URL the PWA is offered on and click on Menu > Install to install it; this leaves two options: either search for PWA manually or use third-party lists like the one on GitHub to get the right links.
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