Zoom announced last year that it would be releasing a new Progressive Web App (PWA) specifically designed for ChromeOS in place of their soon-to-be deprecated app on the Chrome Web Store. In that announcement, Zoom promised that this PWA would bring new features like a customizable gallery view, self-select breakout rooms, live transcription & translation, a new background masking feature, and hand-raising & reactions.
The PWA was released without much fanfare, as users kept using the Web Store app that they were already used to. In fact, a banner started appearing on the old app reminding users to use the Zoom for Chrome PWA app from the Google Play Store as the web app would lose support in June 2022.
Now it looks like Zoom is delivering on at least one of its promises for its PWA. We were clued into this by Twitter user @jdeslip, who sent us the tweet below, letting us know that virtual backgrounds were now working on the PWA. Additionally, About Chromebooks also reported this new development and the new capability of background blurring – both of which were previously unavailable.
Since I had not used Zoom in a while, I hopped on the app to try this out for myself. Immediately after starting a meeting, I was greeted with two new feature notifications: Sharing audio from a Chrome tab and virtual backgrounds. Sharing audio from a Chrome tab works similar to how it works on Google Meet, where you can share a chrome tab of your screen, except that it mutes you while you are sharing audio. I do not think Meet can do that at the moment.
As far as the virtual backgrounds, I was able to set up a background blur and change my background to either an image from their gallery or an image on my Chromebook. Both looked great and didn’t cause any crashes, but your mileage may vary depending on your Chromebook specs.
I am very excited about the improvements made on the Zoom PWA so far. In fact, I may start using it more often when connecting with family overseas instead of trying to coach them on using another solution that they’re not already familiar with. The Zoom for Chrome PWA can be found on the Google Play Store and has a help page available on the Zoom website.