Chrome 72 adds Trusted Web Activities, letting web devs ship Progressive Web Apps on the Play Store
Google’s Play Store is getting a whole new category of apps, thanks to an update to Chrome for Android of all things. Now that the stable channel of Chrome for Android is updated to version 72, Progressive Web Apps can now be published to the Play Store thanks to something Google announced in 2017 called Trusted Web Activities.
As described in Google’s Chromium blog, a “Trusted Web Activity (TWA) displays a full-screen Chrome browser inside of an Android app with no browser UI.” The “Trusted” moniker means Google verifies that the activity (the Progressive Web App being published to the Play Store) and its corresponding web site both belong to the same developer. For example, since I didn’t develop the site allmusic.com I can’t publish an AllMusic Progressive Web App (PWA) to the Play Store.
While this might be confused with apps that use content from the Web via Chrome Custom Tabs or Android System WebView or some other means, the most noticeable difference is that Trusted Web Activities have no browser UI. Also, unlike WebView implementations, TWAs allow for unique Chrome features such as web push notifications, background sync and form autofill (for example if Chrome has your contact information stored a TWA can fill that information in for you).
While publishing a Progressive Web App to the Play Store using Chrome 72’s Trusted Web Activities isn’t as simple as typing a URL into the Google Play Developer Console and tapping the “Publish” button, it should now be much easier for developers to convert a web site into an Android app that users can download from the Play Store. Personally, I’d love to see the developers of allmusic.com take advantage of this feature.