Chrome OS is quickly adding more and more ways to share files between users and devices. Just yesterday, I highlighted the upcoming “Nearby Sharing” feature that will use Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and data to transfer files to, you guessed it, nearby devices. Today’s discovery reveals an even deeper integration between Chrome, Chrome OS, and the powerful tools that are PWAs. PWAs, a.k.a Progressive Web Apps have come a long way over the past year or so and as of late, many of these browser-based applications are blurring the lines between the web and local software.
As PWAs evolve, developers have been given tools that allow for in-app payments, offline capabilities, shortcuts menus, and other tools that make them look and feel a lot like “traditional” applications. The latest update to PWAs on Chrome OS will soon allow users to share files directly to progressive web apps that are installed on a user’s Chromebook. This is all thanks to the upcoming Sharesheet that is currently hidden behind a flag in the Stable channel of Chrome OS. Currently, the Sharesheet only has access to the Nearby Sharing feature that is still a work in progress. However, in the Canary channel of Chrome OS, clicking share on a file in the Files app presented me with new options that included a handful of PWAs that are installed on my device.
As you can see in the image above, the sharesheet now gives me the option to share to my Twitter or Squoosh PWAs. Gravit is on the sharesheet as well but developers are still working on this feature so the CSS for the icon was hidden. I’ve tested some other PWAs but found that very few actually show up on the sharesheet. That is likely due to the fact that developers have to add the Web Share API to their PWAs for the sharesheet to have access to them. That said, the share functionality is working like a charm. When I select an image in the Files app and click the share icon, I can select Twitter and it opens the PWA with a new draft for a Tweet and my photo is already loaded and ready to go. Squoosh does the same. Click share, click Squoosh and the image opens in the PWA. Easy, peasy.
This is a huge deal as the power of the open web begins to take the place of what we once felt was the industry standard of installable applications. Soon, the day will come that we will not be able to tell the difference between a PWA, an Android application, or an old-school executable and that is a very exciting prospect for the future of computing. As more and more developers turn their focus to PWAs, I would expect to see a lot of apps work with the sharesheet feature when it lands in the Stable channel of Chrome OS. We’ll keep an eye on this and update you as soon as have an idea of when that may be.