In the face of the global pandemic, Google has stepped up to the plate and completely transformed its services to better meet the needs of the hybrid ‘Anywhere classroom’. More specifically, Google Meet has become the go-to service for video chats across the education and enterprise space – well, nearly. Its competitor, Zoom, has kept largely in step with them and blew up on the scene near the beginning of COVID, providing many of the same extensions on free usage and allowances as Meet. They even created a dedicated experience for Nest Hub Max users!
Now, Zoom has taken to its blog and announced that it intends to release a new Progressive Web App (PWA) on the Google Play Store that is specifically designed for Chromebooks tomorrow on June 29, 2021! The company wants to ensure that users can have a productive experience across devices, and that laptop and desktop users aren’t forced to use the phone app with all of its constraints. To accomplish this, going with a PWA was the best bet. They’ve partnered with Google (The two competitors have largely been supportive of one another throughout the year) and will offer more features and improved performance with this approach.
PWAs are web apps that can be installed on your OS to provide an app-like experience while using the same technology as your web browser and Chrome OS. PWAs are usually faster and more functional than a regular app, and take up less storage — which is great for cloud-based devices.Zoom Blog
This new PWA will receive updates alongside the traditionally packaged application so that everyone has the same great experience simultaneously. System Admins can still remotely install managed PWAs, so centralizing configurations and security options won’t become an issue.
Once you’ve installed the app from the Google Play Store, you just open it, sign in, and join a meeting as you normally would. Additionally, you can install the PWA from your browser’s Omnibox or three dots ‘more’ menu as we’ve covered in the ‘How to get the most out of your Chromebook by turning websites into icons‘ article. Zoom says that Chrome Enterprise and Chrome Education Upgrades will have access to the old app through January of 2022, they recommend that everyone on a Chromebook swap over to the new experience ASAP.
Chromebook owners can even look forward to a few new features like a customizable gallery view, self-select breakout rooms, live transcription and translation (with assigned interpreters), a new background masking feature (similar to that of Google Meet), and hand raising and reactions. That’s not all though, over the next three to six months, the Chrome PWA for Zoom will become even more capable with regular updates! The more PWAs we see enter into the Google Play Store, the better. Zoom will join Youtube Music for Chromebooks, Google News, and others – the web isn’t the answer to everything, but it sure is becoming the answer to most things. Perhaps one day the Play Store will just be a Web Store.