Chrome OS developers continue to make tweaks and refinements to the user experience and overall layout of how apps and settings are delivered on Chromebooks. Recent changes include things such as a new Media app, split settings from device and browser and a “What’s New?” notification for when your Chromebook gets an update. The last one on that list is one of many upcoming changes that utilizes progressive web apps to deliver features on a device level. These are being referred to as SWAs or System Web Apps. It is simply a PWA that is preinstalled on the device as part of the OS.
The latest SWA to find its way to Chrome OS comes in the form of an experimental “Help App.” The feature is still disabled behind a flag in the Canary channel of Chrome OS but when enabled, the new Help App SWA is added to the launcher and it’s working. Well, somewhat working. You can see in the image below that the “app” is still very rough around the edges but what it aims to deliver is everything a new user would need to find their way around a new Chromebook.
In the app, you will find “how-tos” on things like Chrome OS gestures, PIN unlock and even how to migrate files from Drive and previously used devices. There are also links to the Chromebook offers page where you can pick up freebies as well as recommended applications for your new device. The “help” tab is just a placeholder at the moment but I presume it will offer up some of the more frequently asked Chromebook questions and probably a path to the Chromebook Help Forum. Being that this is a Progressive Web App, you can actually see the page in its current state by heading over to chrome://help-app-guest/app.html Again, this is a work in progress and it will likely be a few months before we see it land in the Stable Channel. This is a great example of how PWAs can be used natively on a device and it’s a great move by Google to help users make the transition to Chrome OS as smooth as possible.