As of last year, downloading certain apps from the Play Store on Chrome OS would automatically “install” the Progressive Web App. The latest service to follow this PWA approach is YouTube Music, though Google is taking a circuitous route with a separate Chromebook listing.

Searching for YouTube TV, Google News, or Twitter on the Chrome OS Play Store today will install a shortcut that’s only kilobytes in size. It is not the Android app you’re familiar with on phones and tablets, but rather just the website. An icon for that app will appear in your launcher, while the window that opens lacks the address bar, tab strip, and other UI elements found in the full browser.

This PWA upgrade happens in the background with the Google Play listing unchanged from the one you can browse on an Android device.

play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.google.android.apps.youtube.music.pwa

The team behind Google’s streaming service is taking a different approach by releasing a separate “YouTube Music for Chromebook” listing and PWA. Released yesterday, version youtube.music.pwa.standalone_20201217_A_RC00 is only 151k and has over 10 installs.

The recommended YouTube Music experience for Chromebook.

The YouTube Music Android app continues to exist as a separate entity today and can still be downloaded. If you previously saved music.youtube.com, the “for Chromebook” version appears to take its place. This situation is somewhat reminiscent of how YouTube Music for Android TV exists solely to provide a homescreen shortcut to the experience inside the main YouTube client.

It’s not hard to see that this two-listing approach is due to the YouTube Music PWA not being able to download songs and albums for offline playback. If Google automatically upgraded the Android app to that PWA, users would lose a key functionality — which macOS and Windows users ask for frequently — and all their downloads. The company will likely stick to this patch until offline support comes to the Progressive Web App.

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