Google is replacing some Android apps in Chrome OS with web apps

Photo by Monica Chin / The Verge

Google is replacing some Android apps for Chromebooks with Progressive Web Apps (PWAs). A PWA is essentially a webpage that looks and feels like a traditional app.

This will certainly be good news for many Chromebook owners. In some cases, PWAs are faster and more functional than their Android counterparts. PWAs also take up less storage and require less juice to run.

It’s also no secret that some Android apps on Chrome OS are terrible. Google has struggled for years to optimize Android apps to work on tablet-sized screens. And while the viable selection has certainly improved since the Pixelbook days, there are still a number of programs notorious for not playing nice. Even though PWAs have been available for a while, it’s likely that some users didn’t know how to get them or why they were a better alternative. Some users also just prefer getting all of their apps with the same process. (I certainly do.)

The first app we know about to receive this treatment was Twitter, which Chrome Unboxed spotted last week. Dominick Ng, tech lead on Google’s Chrome OS team, has since confirmed to Chrome Unboxed that YouTube TV is getting a PWA replacement as well.

Progressive Web Apps were available in the Play Store before, but the difference is that they’re now the default versions of Twitter and YouTube TV, respectively. In other words, when you search for Twitter in the store and press “Install,” Google recognizes you’re on a Chromebook and begins installing the PWA instead of the Android build.

From then on, the Twitter PWA will function just like the Twitter app did; you’ll see the icon in your app tray, you can set up push notifications, and you’ll be able to uninstall it from the Play Store as well.

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