Google is replacing some Android apps with web apps on Chromebooks

By Catherine Morin


Google is trading some Android apps for Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) on Chromebooks.

In what appears as an effort to provide a better user experience for Chromebook owners, Google is experimenting with a new Play Store feature that installs PWAs on Chromebooks by default.

A PWA is a type of application software delivered through the web, built with conventional web technologies, such as CSS, HTML and JavaScript. It is basically a webpage that looks and works like a traditional app.

Chrome OS can currently run both Android apps and web applications. Sometimes, however, the Android version does not operate as optimally on Chromebooks as the web app equivalent.

Since PWAs are essentially webpages, Chromebooks can run them without taking up extra storage space or degrading battery life.

On April 11, Chrome Unboxed reported that Twitter was already getting this treatment. A tech lead on Google’s Chrome OS team has since confirmed to Chrome Unboxed that YouTube TV is getting a PWA replacement as well, according to The Verge.

When users press the install button, Google recognizes they are on a Chromebook device and automatically ditches the Android install for the PWA instead. There is not even an option to download the Android version of Twitter and YouTube TV.

However, both apps function as their Android equivalents did; users see the icons in their app tray and can set up push notifications.

For now, the new functionality exclusively applies to Twitter and YouTube TV. While Google has not yet given details about an eventual extension to more apps, such an initiative could prove very beneficial for Chromebook owners.

As the tech giant has discontinued Chrome Web Store apps earlier this year, the Play Store remains the primary avenue to search for software on Chromebooks.

The new feature would ensure that Chrome OS users always install the most effective version of a given app without additional work.


Catherine Morin is the editor for Direction Informatique


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