I’ve spoken a lot about Google Chat Spaces this week. From its Material You redesign to it being the spiritual successor to Google+ and Google Currents. Back when Google first replaced the Android app on Chromebooks with a progressive web app (PWA) in the Google Play Store, I was initially excited since I believe PWAs to be the future. Since then, the company has committed to this new direction with several of its other apps. However, I just discovered a frustrating limitation with Chat.
Quickly sending data to Chat Spaces is impossible
I know what you’re going to say – Chat isn’t meant to be shared. It’s an intranet-style conversation ground between companies and organizations. What I’m talking about though is sharing things to Chat Spaces, not from them. Generally, I’ll find an interesting article on the web that I want to discuss with colleagues or an Amazon product listing I want to pop into my family “Christmas Shopping” Space, among other examples. By tapping the share button, I noticed that Chat doesn’t show up as an option for where I send the article.
Chat doesn’t even appear under the Sharesheet’s “More apps” section
This problem is PWA-specific
What makes this limitation particularly frustrating is that PWAs have the capability to be made compatible as both sharing sources and targets via the Web Share API, but Google doesn’t seem to have enabled Google Chat as a sharing source! This means that any time you tap that share button on the Chrome browser, you’ll have to manually copy the link, head over to Chat, and then paste it in. It feels archaic.
Sharing is only half of the magic. Web apps can also be share targets, meaning they can receive data, links, text, and files from platform-specific or web apps. Read Receive shared data to learn how to register your app as a share target.Web.dev
Android phones, on the other hand, can do this seamlessly, and it’s the expected behavior I had when trying the process from my Lenovo Chromebook Duet after putting my Pixel 6 Pro down. Unfortunately, on Chromebooks, users are forced to install the PWA version of Google Chat from the Play Store, meaning they cannot share content to it from the Chrome OS Sharesheet without a workaround like sideloading the APK (which is not an option for most users).
While seemingly insignificant, it’s annoying
While I appreciate the benefits that PWAs offer, I hope that Google updates this particular one I use often. It probably takes like, five seconds for one of its developers to go in and set it up as a share target, but knowing my usual Google experience, these things aren’t addressed for years, despite their importance to the day-to-day usage. While not everyone uses Google Chat Spaces, I rely on it daily in my workflow, and the inability to share content to the app is a significant inconvenience made worse by the fact that I now noticed it!
I also noticed this problem when trying to share an image to Google Photos (the PWA version, of course). I didn’t really want to focus on this yet as I’m aware you generally must use the “Upload” button on the website to get images into your library. Let me know in the comments if any other web apps lack proper sharing options. I realize I’m being a bit nitpicky here, but Google Chat Spaces has been something I’ve been using a lot, so these sorts of things stand out after extended integration into my daily life.