Google is quietly making a fairly major change to the way the Google Play Store works on Chrome OS. The ability to download Android apps on Chrome OS is obviously a huge benefit, but it’s an experience that’s often made worse due to the resources Android apps need.
That may not be a major issue in the future, at least for some apps. It looks like Google has slowly started replacing certain Android apps with their Progressive Web App version on the Play Store.
Don’t get too excited, though. The company seems to be quietly making this change, and it only affects two major apps for now: Twitter and YouTube TV. Google replaced the Twitter app on the Play Store with its PWA app earlier this month, and it replaced the YouTube TV app with its PWA version late last week, as first spotted by Chrome Unboxed.
The change means when you download YouTube TV or Twitter from the Play Store on your Chromebook, the Play Store will actually download and install the PWA. But due to the way PWAs work, these apps will appear and work as normal apps, and you’d even be able to uninstall them like normal apps.
It is so gratifying to see a) our strategy so clearly understood, and b) some of the most challenging and satisfying engineering work I've ever done make it out to the world. https://t.co/PMPcbsiQB7
— Dominick Ng (@dominickng) April 9, 2020
Progressive Web Apps on devices like Chromebooks make a lot of sense. These apps are just like regular websites, but with some native functionalities. All of that allows for PWAs to be more efficient and less resource hungry when compared to Android apps.
Google is yet to officially announce this change, so it would be interesting to see how it works from the point of view of an app developer. Right now, it’s not clear if Google allows developers to decide whether they want their PWA to replace their Android app on the Play Store for Chromebooks, or if it’s something that happens automatically.