Install to HomescreenInstall to Homescreen

A more seamless experience for web apps on mobile

Update: The latest version of Chrome Beta has just been pushed out in the Play Store, including this new web app functionality along with a refreshed "new tab" page that loads faster.

Original story: Although it isn't available for download just yet, version 31 of Chrome Beta for Android will bring a new option to pin web apps to your home screen. The so-called "install to homescreen" option will let web app developers make apps that identify properly as being able to pin to your home screen, and then launched in a full-screen "app mode." The option to pin these apps will be found in the main menu, as shown above.

You already have the ability to pin bookmarks to your home screen that open up individual sites, but the difference here is that you will be able to add these apps directly from the page and have them open up differently than your normal web page. These full-screen experience will be more akin to native apps, will show up in the task switcher separate from your regular Chrome browser instance and won't have the standard browser UI around them.

It seems like it will be pretty simple for web app developers to identify their apps as being ready for this system as well, which is a plus. Although it will be generally seamless to the user, Google shows that web app developers won't be able to navigate you away from the web app out to a different website without your knowledge. Be on the lookout for the latest version of Chrome Beta and web apps that support this feature.

Source: Google Developers; Google Chrome Releases


Reader comments

Chrome Beta to add web app 'install to homescreen' option in version 31 [update: it's live]


Any chance the other mobile nations sites can use this?

Just having bookmarks for WPCentral etc that open in Chrome is a bit clunky.

Unless those "pins" show notifications, they aren't very useful or very good at replacing native apps (I'm looking at you facebook).

Funny I don't have Facebook notifications activated but that is the first and probably only app that will get this treatment.

+1... and I love chrome, but it needs to be a smother process to open chrome, wait for the keyboard to come up and then get to a page. Too much lag in all of these steps.

The last time I heard of Web app was from 2007 by Steve Jobs! I don't like them!

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I'd love to know the permissions these sites have access to once installed to your home page.

I think this is probably paving the way for Dart ( to come to Chrome on Android. Google wants a unified programming language/environment that works across all platforms and it looks like they're going for it with Dart/Chrome.

I'm not getting that in-tab search thing. Anybody ells not getting it?

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Chrome beta is a big fuck up! I downloaded it and there was a bug in it which randomly made my phone reboot !

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Chrome beta is a big fuck up! I downloaded it and there was a bug in it which randomly made my phone reboot !

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I can't even see the update on my phone. How is everyone else getting the update

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I have a test page up you can try:

Open it in chrome beta 31 and then select Add to Homescreen from the browser menu. The web page icon will now be on your homescreen. Tab the homescreen icon and note that the page launches in full-screen "app mode" - i.e., in a "chromeless" browser - no location bar, no menu button, etc. If you call up the app switcher, you will see the page running as it's own app (called "Web App") separately from Chrome.

NOTE: App mode has to be enabled by the page author by adding a "web-app-capable" meta tag to the HTML. Therefore, not every page saved to homescreen will launch outside of Chrome in app mode.

NOTE: Cookies, local storage, indexed db, etc are shared between the original webpage and the full-screen web app. So if you are logged into the site in Chrome, save the page to your homescreen, and then launch in app mode, you should still be logged in. This is *not* how it works on iOS which is a big usability issue and the source of much confusion for users.

NOTE: This feature does not automatically enable offline mode for pages saved to the homescreen. Offline access to a page can be added by the page author using app cache, local storage and related HTML5 APIs, but this is a separate consideration and would work in the browser just as well as in app mode. Offline support and app mode are complementary technologies but are unrelated and independent of each other.


Jonathan Stark

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