Chrome has offered the ability to add shortcuts to web pages on the home screen for a while now. When Chrome 51 was released in 2015, Google took it a step further by allowing certain sites to use Web App Install Banners, customize the shortcut's loading screen, and hide the Chrome UI.
Now Google is taking Progressive Web Apps a step further. Starting with Chrome Canary today and Chrome 57 Beta in the coming weeks, web apps added to the home screen will be near-indistinguishable from native applications installed from the Play Store.
Google's very hot on the whole web apps topic, with it promoting things like Chrome Apps on both Chrome OS and Android, as well as things like Instant Apps, introduced earlier this year at I/O. Well, it seems like Google is preparing another assault, this time with 'Progressive Web Apps,' a way to make web apps more powerful and useful to end users, plus make it easier for developers to put them together.
A Progressive Web App is a powerful web application that can be used anywhere, on any OS. As you use the app more and more, it gradually will get more powerful.
Google's Chrome development team regularly implements new APIs to extend the possibilities for web apps to behave more like their native counterparts. The most recent addition to the Chrome dev channel allows web developers to use Bluetooth to communicate with nearby hardware. This could be used for things like an online fitness tracker that gets data from a heart rate monitor or for a controller to drive a Sphero, all without installing a native app.
These things are possible with the new Web Bluetooth API. Still in the early stages of development, this allows a web application to query for Bluetooth devices based on their capabilities, then pass messages back and forth with little or no friction.
As of this morning, most users are finding it back up and running normally
Starting early in the AM on July 14th, reports started coming in that Firefox and Safari can both use the web app again. IE users should be good to go, too. My own testing confirms this as well. Happy listening!
End of Update
With no obvious cause, numerous subscribers to Google Play Music All Access have suddenly found that just about any non-Chrome browser cannot use the web app to stream songs.
After paying a lot of attention to the mobile and connected TV experience, Netflix has announced a major overhaul of their browser interface. Before you sign in and get confused, today is just the beginning of the rollout, which they say will complete in a couple of weeks. Netflix bills this as the first major update in four years, though its look has certainly gone through several iterations over that time span. For a refresher, here's a side-by-side comparison of old and new (click to embiggen):
Left: current/old Right: new
Orange is the new black? Maybe, but black is the new white.
Along with site notifications, the latest Chrome Beta v42 has another new feature for improving the web app experience. The ability to add a website to your home screen from Chrome has been there for a while now, but not all web pages are created equal in this regard. These shortcuts work best for fully-fledged web apps and now Chrome will let you know when you have visited a good candidate for home screen placement.
To get an idea of how it works, check out this GIF from HTML5 Rocks:
Perhaps the most important aspect of this feature is that it will not appear every time you visit a qualifying site.
Samsung has been pushing its fancy new Milk brand hard lately, adding video and teasing virtual reality. But before today, listeners' biggest barrier to access was the fact that the app was only available on their Samsung-branded phones and tablets. That changes this morning with the launch of Milk Music for the web, accessible from desktop and Chrome OS browsers at milk.samsung.com. Log in using your Samsung account and you'll have access to the same songs and stations that you do on mobile.
Unlike the mobile version, the website's free service is available to everyone - you'll need a Samsung account to log in, but it will let you through even if you make a new one with no associated devices.
Have you ever used Google+ on a mobile browser? It has never been very fun. Trying to share something or make sense of a link was no better. However, after over a year without noticeable improvements for mobile browsers, it has finally gotten a revamp. In fact, it's arguably a better experience than the current Google+ app for Android.
Here's a look at the new mobile web app.
If you don't remember how it was before, here are a couple snaps from Google's out-of-date mobile web apps page:
Not all of the changes to Android 5.0 Lollipop are meant to be seen by regular users, but that doesn't make them any less important. One of the core components of the operating system is about to break free from the shackles of firmware updates and join the Play Store and Google Play services in receiving automatic updates directly from Google. As of Android 5.0, the WebView component will be a distinct apk, allowing it to be upgraded separately from the OS. Not only will this ensure important security updates find their way to our devices, but it will also make new features and APIs available to developers of applications that rely on WebView.
Quick, if you're on a desktop browser, open a new tab and head for Google Drive. You might just see a new interface for Google's document and storage service, first announced back at Google I/O. Drive is getting a makeover to make it more like navigating files in a desktop file manager, complete with thumbnail views for all items and keyboard modifiers that let you manage multiple files at once. Here, check out Google's slick intro for the new features.
A new default view that uses a thumbnail grid instead of a list
A combined "new" button for creating new documents
File details available from the home screen
Desktop-style selection tools, including click-and-drag, Ctrl-modifiers, and drag-and-drop