WebAPKs are Now Enabled by Default in Chrome Nightly Builds
Progressive Web Apps (otherwise known as WebAPKs) are Google’s attempt at integrating the web app ecosystem (so far through Chrome) into the Android platform. Traditional applications (such as a native application) need to be downloaded as an APK file and then installed directly onto the device. Web applications are much more open as you simply visit a website and while that does have its convenience, they simply are not as feature-rich as a native application can be.
This is where the Progressive Web App (WebAPK) comes into play as it allows those open web applications to use certain Android APIs. This results in a WebAPK feeling and working like a native application does as it can be granted permissions for things like notifications, calendar events, etc. They do install like a traditional APK and an icon is present in your application drawer, but they tend to be much smaller since most of the work is being done outside of the device.
So Google launched this integration of Progressive Web Apps in Chrome for Android back in January of this year. It was only available in the developer and canary builds of Chrome at that time, and it needed to be manually enabled with a toggle within the chrome://flags section. Things are changing now though as we’re seeing a Chromium commit that enables these WebAPKs by default in the current nightly builds of Chrome for Android.
The feature is still there in the chrome://flags section so you can choose to go into that hidden menu and disable if you’d like (which will be useful if the server encounters issues). But this marks the first time the feature is being enabled by default in any version of Chrome for Android. We’ll have to wait and see how long it takes for this feature to make it into the stable build of Chrome, but it’s nice to see they are making progress and it’s getting closer to that point.
Source: Google Git