The ambitious goal behind Progressive Web Apps is to allow websites to have the same capabilities and features as a native app, but without the initial download. Google has been a heavy backer of this model and will soon grant PWAs more system-wide access and integration in Android.
When adding Progressive Web Apps to the homescreen, they will now appear in the app drawer — addressing a long shared developer request which will reduce user confusion about why apps are seemingly inconsistent.
Other features include the ability to appear in Android settings and likely have an App info screen, as well as the capability to receive incoming intents to open up specific links. Lastly, notifications will no longer appear and be branded by Chrome, but rather originate from the native Android notification management controls.
In addition, PWAs are similar to Google’s goal with Android Instant Apps. Both are attempting to make app discovery easier and reduce end-user friction for great experiences. However, Progressive Web Apps ultimately require huge buy in from web developers. Nevertheless, this is the first step towards truly “mak[ing] web apps first-class citizens of Android.”
The new Add to Home screen feature will be coming with Chrome 57. Another feature specific to Android in that version is the new Media Session API that allows developers to customize the lock screen UI and notifications. Specifically, media notifications can include title, artist, album name, and artwork, as well as actions like seeking and skipping.
On other platforms, CSS Grid Layout support gives developers more granular control over how elements grow and shrink to fit the current screen size. The two-dimensional grid-based layout system is optimized for responsive user interface design and makes layout code easier to understand.