Installing a PWA is about to feel more native on Android
Web browsers are continuing to add new features that make progressive web apps (PWAs) feel more like traditional apps on Android. For example, today, the Chrome Developers Twitter account revealed Google’s web browser is introducing a new installation dialog that provides users with a richer experience.
Starting today on Android, some users will get a richer PWA installation dialog on Twitter.
– Want the same for your PWA?
– Easy. Add the `description` and `screenshots` member to your manifest and you're done.
— Chrome Developers (@ChromiumDev) March 29, 2021
Going forward, web developers can add the “description” and “screenshots” members to their manifest. As you can see in the screenshot shared by Chrome Developers, this makes the installation dialog for a PWA look a lot more like the UI for installing a native app, complete with screenshots and a short description.
Twitter is the first to take advantage of the richer PWA installation dialog, but Android users should expect other websites to adopt the improved web app install prompts. The feature itself doesn’t change the behavior or performance of PWAs, but making it feel more native might encourage more installations from Android users.
According to Google, developers must follow specific criteria for the richer dialog prompt to properly display. For images, weight and height must be at least 320px and at most 3840px. Screenshots must also have the same aspect ratio, and only JPEG and PNG image formats are supported.
The description and screenshots properties are currently used only in Chrome for Android and require an experimental flag to be enabled in Chrome 90.
Progressive Web Apps offer a more streamlined alternative to downloading a full app, while still providing users with instant access to the experience. For a service like Twitter, the differences between a native app and a PWA are minimal, as the company keeps its website and mobile apps pretty similar.
The only issue with these prompts is that if a user opts not to install a progressive web app for a site they frequently visit, they may have to constantly deal with the pop-up, which could get annoying fast.