If you’ve been around here for any amount of time, you know I have an affinity for a well-made PWA (progressive web app). I use the Twitter PWA on both my Chromebook and my phone because the experience is nearly the same as the native app, overhead is far less at 276kB versus the app’s 69MB of storage, and because I favor the democracy of the open web that PWAs take full advantage of. There aren’t a ton of PWAs I use on my phone on a regular basis right now, but I use quite a few on my Chromebook as a daily part of my workflow.
As PWAs continue to gain traction, they are also growing in their abilities. From a development standpoint, it makes sense why PWAs could eventually take over for many native apps since they allow developers to basically write a single app with a single code base and deploy it wherever they like. If your device has a web browser, the PWA becomes an app you can use without the need of app stores or proprietary, walled-garden inconsistencies.
PWAs are finally getting to the point where they can rival the functionality of their native counterparts, and this new feature addition for Chrome on Android (currently in Canary) only continues to solidify this standing. Thanks to a tweet from Thomas Steiner over on Twitter, (via 9to5 Google) we now know that one of Android’s cooler features is now becoming available for PWAs as well. The long-press app shortcuts that have been around for Android since Nougat are now on the way for PWAs as well.
There are many users who have adapted to the usefulness of these shortcuts over time and even Android apps on Chrome OS have picked up this ability. With a long-press of the app shortcut on a phone or a right-click on a Chromebook, users can choose a quick pre-programmed shortcut to execute without having to navigate inside the app to get there. While I don’t use these shortcuts very often, I find that a quick task like freeing up space in Google Photos via the long-press shortcut is very handy to have around.
With PWAs getting this handy feature, they will take yet another step towards rivaling native apps at every turn. The closer and closer we get to PWAs being able to match native apps step-for-step, the closer we get to a reality where apps get developed first and foremost for the web and native version aren’t even considered. I’m hopeful this update will roll over to Chrome OS as well and give PWAs on Chromebooks the same abilities. With Google’s latest move to include PWA installs as part of the Play Store on Chromebooks, I’d imagine this is all on the roadmap.
If you’d like to give this all a try, you’ll need Chrome Canary installed on your Android device first. After that, head over to sadchonks.com, add the app to your home screen, and long-press the app icon to see the shortcuts. It works as expected and makes me excited to see apps like Twitter jump on board with this additional ability in the near future.