Progressive Web Apps or PWAs for short are getting a lot of attention lately. We’re certainly talking about them more often and Google has a mind for them as well. During their 2020 Dev Summit, Chrome developer Asami Doi discussed a new change to PWAs in Chrome – If you’re a dev and you don’t add some form of offline support for users, they won’t show the install button in the Omnibox for your site anymore. Google really is cracking down now because PWAs, in my opinion, are the future and if they don’t offer this functionality, users will just see them as websites – plan and simple.
We encourage web developers to make offline supported PWA.
We plan to raise the bar of the offline capability check. PWAs that don’t provide at least a basic offline experience, will not show the install prompts.
Progressive Web Apps are defined by their ability to provide the user with increased performance, offline support via caching, and even access to advanced browser-independent features like push notifications and background data syncing. They basically meld apps and web into one experience, but instead of having to program across platforms, web development tends to be easier and more universal, so it’s becoming the way to go.
Today, when you install a PWA and launch it offline, the likelihood of it bringing you to the dinosaur page that shows that there is no connection is high. Many developers are creating their web apps without meeting the requirements on Google’s checklist – in other words, they’re creating plain old web apps that aren’t exactly progressive.
PWAs are currently just marked as offline compatible if Chrome finds existing fetch event handler and service worker, but not by checking whether or not there’s actual offline functionality. In other words, Chrome currently allows sites with empty fetch handlers to be considered ‘offline’ PWAs and thus shows the Omnibox install prompt. Going forward, these fetch event handlers must no longer be empty in order for the prompt to appear. Developers must begin offering some form of offline support for users in order to get the privilege of the install prompt! This change affects both mobile and desktop Chrome.
In order for a web app to be considered, it must meet four requirements:
- A secure domain (HTTPS)
- Service worker to allow the app to work offline.
All of this to say that Google is really pushing hard for a future where PWAs can replace traditional locally packaged apps in as many instances as possible. They’ve already begun to place them into the Google Play Store and many of their own web apps are now already progressive. I keep saying that if they just revamp the Chrome Web Store, it would be the perfect place to house these since they already sort of exist there, but I’m okay with them infiltrating the Play Store too. Honestly, I love web apps and I’m a big proponent of them, so any future where they’re getting lots of love and attention is good in my opinion, regardless of where they reside.