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Chrome OS offers an Android app when installing a web app



Chrome OS has become one of the best operating systems on the market today by its ability to traditionally combine the web browser with progressive web applications, Android applications and Linux applications. Google is now looking to shake Chrome OS experience for good or bad, sometimes preferring to use Android apps in web apps.

In your current look, when you browse a website that can be installed by Chrome OS, you'll see a convenient little icon in the Omnibox. Clicking this install button places the PWA (progressive web application) in the Chrome OS launcher as well as any other application.

When a developer creates a PWA, they need to describe the details of the application in their browser. As part of this, the developer can also specify "linked apps," such as the iOS or Android version of the app, and whether they would prefer to use one of these apps instead of the web app.

A pair of Chromium Gerrit source code management commitment shows that Google is looking to make Android apps a higher priority by redirecting to the Play Store for some apps.

This CL allows Chrome OS to make inquiries to ARC about whether PWA has an app connected and can be installed. If this happens, the installation action redirects to the Play store.

With this change, under the hood, if a developer notices that a Chrome OS app is available on their site ("chromeos_play" in particular), Chrome OS will open the Play Store for you to install the app for Android, instead of the web app. If your Chromebook is not compatible with the app, the web app will install as usual, but there is no way to choose to stick to the web app.

Some apps have small (or even big) differences between a normal web site, an Android app and a PWA that tends to make one of the options better than the others. The freedom to choose whether to install the web app or Android app is one of the main benefits of Chrome OS and this change seems to somewhat violate this freedom.

Since this change now appears in the Chromium code, it must arrive with Chrome OS 77. Additionally, as it requires change from web developers, Google is likely to share more information about this change in the Chrome OS application installation near future.

9to5Google's Take

I personally hope that Google does this is not required before it starts. There are some apps like Twitter that have excellent PWAs that I would prefer to use. Fortunately, in this particular case, Twitter does not currently list any related apps.


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