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Firefox discontinues work toward Progressive Web Apps on desktop

One of the better recent features of the web is the ability for websites to be upgraded into standalone apps — called Progressive Web Apps — on your phone or desktop. Unfortunately, it seems Mozilla has discontinued the development of supporting Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) on desktop versions of Firefox.

While part of the beauty of the web is that you can expect a fairly consistent experience across different browsers, each browser has its set of differences. For instance, Chrome and Chromium have put focus on efforts like Web Bluetooth that other browsers haven’t adopted, while Firefox offers things like the privacy-protecting automatic Facebook Container.

The latest differentiator between Firefox and Chromium-based browsers, via Fast Company, is that Mozilla appears to be dropping a long-in-development feature they call “site-specific browsers,” which never quite grew beyond experimental status. Effectively, Firefox’s site-specific browsers allowed a site to open in a PWA-like window, but lacked things like add-ons support.

Following pushback from the community, Mozilla explained that site-specific browsers weren’t being used often enough to justify the feature’s continued upkeep. Going further, they explain that they hope to signal that “PWA support is not coming to desktop Firefox anytime soon.” Instead, Mozilla is turning its focus to features that they believe will be more beneficial to their users.

Firefox’s announcement comes at a time where Chromium-based browsers like Microsoft Edge have pushed toward making Progressive Web Apps appear in the usual list used to uninstall/manage apps on Windows.

Firefox isn’t alone in only supporting PWAs on mobile. Apple currently only allows you to install PWAs on iOS devices, a feature used by services like Google Stadia that wouldn’t typically get App Store approval, while the desktop version Safari does not have PWA support.

More on PWAs:

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Avatar for Kyle Bradshaw Kyle Bradshaw

Kyle is an author and researcher for 9to5Google, with special interests in Made by Google products, Fuchsia, and Stadia.

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