Progressive Web Apps might soon auto-start like regular desktop apps

Chromebook with large monitor
Chromebook with large monitor (Image credit: Android Central)

What you need to know

  • Google is working on making Progressive Web Apps launch on startup.
  • A code change enabling this scenario was spotted in the Chromium code base this week.
  • The feature will work on all Chromium-powered browsers and is intended to enable communication scenarios where speed is a benefit.

Google is about to let Progressive Web Apps become a bit more like regular desktop apps in Chrome and other Chromium-powered browsers. As spotted by Chrome Story, Google's added a new"Desktop PWA run on startup" feature flag to the Chromium codebase. This flag will let Progressive Web Apps load up even before Chrome is started by the user, acting just like their desktop counterparts do. For instance, Spotify and Slack can be configured to automatically load up on startup, and Google wants their PWA counterparts to have that feature too.

Progressive Web Apps are the future of computing. While the web was a slow starter, much of all modern app development takes place there, while local development for either Windows or macOS has dwindled to little or nothing. Google is doing a lot of work to speed that future along, and Microsoft is actually helping too. This code-change comes from the Edge team which started contributing to the Chromium project late last year.

The intention is for apps that are focused on email, chat, and communication, in general, to be able to launch on startup. Chromebooks, in particular, will get a productivity boost from this new feature. It's a little ironic that Microsoft would eventually be the one to add auto-start desktop applications to Chrome OS.

The feature is nowhere near ready yet but can be expected towards the latter end of the year/early next year if it all goes smoothly.

Why progressive web apps (PWAs) may ultimately benefit Google more than Microsoft

Michael Allison