Chromebooks will soon be able to launch progressive web apps on startup

Pixelbook Go and the OG Pixelbook side by side
Pixelbook Go and the OG Pixelbook side by side (Image credit: Android Central)

What you need to know

  • Google will soon let Chromebooks launch progressive web apps on startup.
  • The new capability is currently tucked behind a flag on Chrome OS 85 which remains in development at the moment.
  • Chrome OS 85 is set to hit Chromebooks in a few months, but the feature may remain in development longer.

Chromebooks are set to get a bit of functionality that's pulled from other "real" desktop operating systems -— the ability to launch apps on startup. Spotted in Chrome OS Dev 85 by Chrome Unboxed, the company has added the following flag to the OS.

Desktop PWAs run on OS loginEnable installed PWAs to be configured to automatically start when the OS user logs in. – Mac, Windows, Linux, Chrome OS#enable-desktop-pwas-run-on-os-loginPWA run on login flag

Chrome Os Apps On Start Up Chromeunboxed

Source: Chrome Unboxed (Image credit: Source: Chrome Unboxed)

The interface flow also appears user-friendly and simplistic, like much of Chrome. It's still in progress and doesn't just quite work other than what's in the screenshot above, but when it does, it should let users automatically launch apps like Slack, Spotify, Messages, and other Progressive Web Apps as soon as they log into their Chromebook. It's something that Windows and macOS users take for granted, and something that'll take web-apps and make them feel a little bit more like native apps.

Chromebooks aren't perfect, but Google has done a fair bit of work to make sure they remain viable in 2020. It added and improved both Linux and Play Store app support, it's brought in manufacturers on board to push hardware boundaries and even launched the first notebooks on Intel's Project Athena program. It's even a contender for one of the best tablet experiences in 2020 despite Microsoft's multi-year lead in that area. Again. it's not perfect, but it's getting good enough that it's no longer a compromise for most.

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Michael Allison
  • Technically, you can already run any Web app on startup. (But it just won't run in its own window.) If you pin a tab in the browser, it will still be pinned when you restart the device.
  • The Chrome browser also has an "On Startup" section that already allows you to configure "Open a specific page or set of pages." Included in the list of on-startup Web pages would be the version of any PWA that you'd see if you switched the PWA from window-mode to tab mode. Not the same as the new feature, but not that different either.
  • It would be great if I could use the Office suite on my Pixelbook. I can't tell you how many times I've wanted to easily do this. Emphasis on easy. I hope this new solution works...easily!!