WebAPK Arrives to Chrome Stable on Android
This is an important milestone for Progressive Web Apps. Chrome team has enabled WebAPK to the stable version of Chrome for Android. Earlier, this feature was experimental and hidden behind the Chrome flag “Enable improved add to Home screen”. Recently, this feature was enabled by default in pre-release versions of Chrome and Chromium builds for Android. Finally, this has been enabled by default in the stable version of Chrome on Android.
In short, this means that the Progressive Web Apps (PWA) can now be installed on Android, similar to the native apps. Users can now install a PWA by using the “Add to Home screen” option present in Chrome’s menu (see the screenshot above). Earlier to WebAPK, the PWAs added to the home screen were just special bookmarks to launch them in full screen mode without browser UI.
Now, with WebAPK technology enabled, Chrome would generate APK file for PWA on the fly. When a user adds any PWA to the home screen, a APK file would be generated, signed and installed. The installed PWA would appear on the home screen and app launcher sections similar to the native apps. It would also support many features available only to the native apps like App Link, Intent, separate permissions and access (not linked to Chrome any more), tighter OS integration etc. Moreover, these apps can be uninstalled similar to the native apps (see the following video).
For more information on PWA and WebAPK, you should watch the following Chrome Dev Summit 2016 video by Paul Kinlan.
(PS: this feature is currently rolling out to the users. h/t @Paul_Kinlan)