Google to Bring More Native Features to Web Apps

Posted on November 13, 2018 by Paul Thurrott in Android, Chrome OS, Cloud, Dev, Mobile with 20 Comments

Google this week said that it would work to close the functional gap between native apps and web apps. The goal is to let web apps do everything that native apps can across mobile and desktop platforms.

“There are some capabilities, like file system access, idle detection, and more that are available to native but aren’t available on the web,” Google’s Pete LePage explains. “These missing capabilities mean some types of apps can’t be delivered on the web, or are less useful. To cope, some developers build native apps, or use wrappers like Cordova or Electron to access the underlying capabilities of the device.”

To close this functional gap, Google has committed to establishing which native platform capabilities are still unavailable to web apps and then bringing those capabilities over. It will prioritize this work based on need, so that the most useful missing features are implemented first.

“We’ve identified and prioritized an initial set of capabilities we feel are critical to closing the gap between web and native, and have already started work on a handful of them,” Lepage notes. “Personally I’m really excited about the writable file API that makes it possible to create web-based editors, and event alarms that help perform arbitrary work at some point in the future. But there are plenty more: Web Share Target, Async cookies, Wake Lock, WebHID, user idle detection, just to name a few.”

Indeed, the writable file API—which would enable more sophisticated web-based text editors and word processors that can seamlessly access local files, is up first.

You can find the current list of capabilities that Google is looking to implement in the Chromium bug database. But developers who are interested in this work might also consider chiming in about the evolution of these features tool.

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