Google and Microsoft join forces to improve progressive applications on Android, and by progressive applications we mean progressive web applications or PWA for its acronym in English, one of the great advances to expand the catalog of existing cross-platform applications whose development and distribution has always been linked to that of web browsers. But it does not have to be like that.
For us to understand each other, progressive applications are web applications that integrate with the desktop -either on the mobile or on the PC- in much the same way as a native application would. It is not a simple ‘link’ that opens the website in question, although that is basically how it works for now, but it is intended to offer full and consistent integration with the system.
For now, however, there are limitations to make progressive applications a non-suspicious alternative to native applications: the vast majority are dependent on the web browser they were created with, their independent distribution is growing, but remains residual … And still they are a sure future bet, because they greatly simplify development and facilitate cross-platform compatibility.
Google and Microsoft, together for progressive applications
Google and Microsoft are two companies that are very interested in seeing a powerful ecosystem of progressive applications flourish, which will ultimately benefit Chrome OS and Windows, but also other desktop operating systems; and they start with Android, a platform led by Google, but which Microsoft has forcefully endorsed.
Thus, those of Redmond and those of Mountain View have teamed up to improve progressive applications on Android and the first movement in this regard was the integration of two tools that will make life easier for developers: PWABuilder, an open source project from Microsoft to create progressive applications from any website; and Bubblewrap, a Google utility to add those applications to the Play Store.
This collaboration was launched at the beginning of the year and has already borne its first fruits, and that is that the integration of both tools was not an end in itself, but a means to improve the functionalities of progressive applications. Well, they have just announced what’s new: cross-platform support for shortcuts and advanced customization features specific to Android.
With these new options, developers will be able to substantially improve the functionality of progressive applications: in the case of shortcuts, this is an improvement designed especially for the desktop, while advanced customization for Android will allow developers to customize elements such as the status bar, navigation bar, home screen or offer richer push notifications.
I mean, all of this is aimed at developers, but the beneficiary will be the end user. Until now we are used to using almost glancing progressive applications, either on the PC or on the mobile: on the PC, because by opening a browser tab you already have it and save yourself trouble; and on mobile because they are convenient so you don’t have to install a thousand different applications. But its potential is much greater and we are going to begin to verify it.