There are many operating systems today, from Windows to MacOS to Linux and Android to iOS, a little too many for developers, especially loners, to support them equally. There is no shortage of frameworks and tools like Qt or Google’s Flutter to make this a little less painful, but the only platform that really gets through all of this is the web. This is basically the allure of the new generation of web apps called Progressive Web Apps. Two of the world’s largest software providers are working together to make PWAs first-class citizens of the Google Play Store.
Many of the most popular apps and services these days are web-based and designed to cover as many bases as possible, sometimes even in mobile web browsers. However, this does not immediately make them PWAs, since they still have to be properly integrated into the underlying operating system-specific functions. That̵
Google’s bubblewrap is basically a tool for creating Google Play Store packages from PWAs, while Microsoft’s PWABuilder does the same for most app stores. According to Microsoft, PWABuilder now uses bubbler wrap under the hood and returns some integration features to PWAs on Android.
In particular, PWAs packaged for the Google Play Store can support web shortcuts that allow users to jump directly to certain sections or parts of the web app. On Windows, these shortcuts are displayed as jump lists when you right-click the icon in the taskbar. The same list appears on Android when you press and hold the app icon. In addition, PWAs can control the appearance of the status bar, e.g. For example, change the color according to the theme of the app, just like normal native Android apps.
Google and Microsoft rely heavily on PWAs for their own reasons. Microsoft is trying to compensate for the lack of apps in its store by publishing existing web apps there as PWAs. Google, on the other hand, benefits from PWAs by having a single app story that spans all existing platforms and uses the platform that it knows best: the web.