Google has long worked to make web apps in Chrome as powerful as native ones, especially on mobile platforms. Citing WebRTC and service workers as making the web more feature-rich, Google is embarking on new capabilities to make modern web application that are comparable to native counterparts.
Google notes that web apps today are missing features like file system access and idle detection, with developers turning to wrappers like Electron to “access the underlying capabilities” of devices. This limits the types of apps that can be built on the web, and makes existing ones less useful. The end goal is to allow developers to build web apps that can work on any platform.
Giving developers these new tools will empower the open web as a place where any experience can be created, and make the web a first class platform for developing apps that run on any browser, with any operating system, and on any device.
In setting out to ‘close the gap,’ Google is taking care to keep the web open and have these features be standardized. Chrome will work with other browser vendors to ensure interoperability and get early developer feedback. Proposals will be submitted to the W3C Web Incubator Community Group for feedback.
We plan to design and develop these new capabilities in an open and transparent way, using the existing open web platform standards processes while getting early feedback from developers and other browser vendors as we iterate on the design, to ensure an interoperable design.
According to Google, this open, development process will be “no different than how we develop every other web platform feature.”
Initial capabilities under development include a writable file API that will allow for web-based editors. Google is already asking for feedback, with regards to use cases and the expected security model. Other features that are coming include event alarms that “help perform arbitrary work at some point in the future,” as well as Web Share Target, Async cookies, Wake Lock, WebHID, and user idle detection.
This first wave of prioritized features, according to Google, are “critical to closing the gap between web and native.”