Google Play Store offers Space for Progressive Web Apps (PWAs)

Under Chrome 72 PWAs can be developed for the Google Play Store

With the new Chrome version 72 it is now possible for developers to develop progressive web apps for the Google Play Store. The Trusted Web Activity (TWA) interface is responsible for this. Two years ago the TWA was presented at the Chrome Dev Summit 2017 by Google developers with the words: they are currently working on it. Let’s take a closer look at what’s behind it and how it works:

The technology behind it

TWA allows web content to be started in fullscreen format directly from a native Android app. This is done in the user’s preferred mobile browser. The typical browser user interface disappears, e.g. the URL tab bar at the top of the display. Currently developers use WebView and Chrome Custom Tabs to display web content in apps under Android. However, WebView and Chrome Custom Tabs still use the browser-like look, whereas Chrome Custom Tabs generate a smooth transition from app to web content and are much faster. They also give developers the ability to customize the look and feel of Custom Tabs. A Chrome Custom Tab is always loaded within the Android app as soon as a link is opened – but not the entire Chrome browser.

TWA and Chrome Custom Tabs

Now let’s go back to the TWA interface: it is supported by the Chrome Custom Tabs and should make it easier for developers (less writing of code like JavaScript or Kotlin) to publish PWAs in the Google Play Store. TWA has access to all Chrome features and functions which are not available under WebView. These include web push notifications, background synchronization (information is sent and displayed as soon as the user has a stable connection), automatic filling of forms in Chrome and the web share function (websites can access the native sub-function of apps). More information about Trusted Web Activities, WebView and Custom Tabs can also be found in this video from 2018 of the Google Chrome Developers:

All apps in one place: native apps and PWAs come together

TWA paves the way for both progressive web apps and native apps to be found in one place – the Google Play Store. A nice approach, especially since most users automatically think of an app store when they hear the word app. Meanwhile, there are already PWAs available in the Google Play Store. These include Twitter Lite, Instagram Lite and Facebook Lite. However, these progressive web apps still use the WebView technology mentioned above. They also contain a lot of native code, e.g. to allow notifications in the form of push notifications.

Google continues to drive development of Progressive Web Apps

Adding PWAs to the Google Play Store will be possible under Chrome 72

The developers at Google spare no effort to further advance the progressive web app technology. On 01.02.19 Paul Kinlan (Lead of Chrome Dev team) had acknowledged via Twitter and confirmed TWA under Chrome 72.

 

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