With the release of Chrome 42 for Android, web applications are one step closer to being able to offer a similar user experience to native applications.
Fizz Will Allow Web App Push Notifications
The most exciting feature of Chrome 42 is being referred to as Fizz. Fizz, among other things, allows web applications to send push notifications to the user. This is a feature that native applications have enjoyed since the beginning, but has been unavailable to mobile web applications until now.
Fizz builds upon a new browser technology called Service Workers which first shipped in Chrome 40. Service workers are scripts that run in the background, on a separate layer from your main application, and have access to connection information through the Network Information API. This can help web applications function better when there is a slow or no internet connection.
Chrome Promotes Web Applications
Web applications that meet certain criteria will be promoted. This criteria most likely revolves around how mobile friendly the web app is. Google has been pushing hard to raise standards for the mobile web. Recently, they announced that mobile friendly sites will rank higher in their services search results. I expect the same algorithm responsible for influencing search ranking also affects which apps get promoted. This promotion is tied in with another feature that rolled out way back in Chrome 31.
New Prompts To Pin Sites
When users visit certain web apps, Chrome will prompt the user to pin the the site to their home screen. The Add to Homescreen feature creates an icon on the users device that looks just like a native application icon. Clicking the icon will open a separate Chrome browser window and direct it to the site’s URL. The difference is that instead of a normal Chrome browser, this one is full screen. There is no navigation bar or anything else taking up screen real estate. Instead, the web app gets all the focus.
The end result is something that looks and feels closer than ever to a true native app without having to write a single line of native code. This is good news for web app developers who want their apps to work well on mobile devices but, for whatever reason, choose not to build dedicated native apps. With these latest updates you can give your users a similar experience without any additional development time.
For now, these features are exclusive to Android, but may roll out to other platforms eventually.
You can read more about Chrome 42 here.