Firefox 58 for Android will bring support for Progressive Web Apps (PWAs). Here’s an early look at how this will work. And how you can test it for yourself.
First, the how: PWA support is coming to Firefox 58 for Android, and that release is currently expected in January. But Mozilla makes a beta version of Firefox available in the Google Play Store. So if you want to test this functionality, you can. I’ve moved to using this version as my default browser for now, pending any issues.
In use, this appears to work much like it does in Chrome for Android: The first time browse to a website that is built as a PWA, Firefox 58 will prompt you about this new functionality. (I’m using Twitter Lite in this example.)
On subsequent visits to PWA sites, Firefox 58 will likewise prompt you, via an unmissable dialog, to pin the site to your home screen.
If you cancel this, you can always pin it later using a new Pin to home page button in the Firefox address box.
The pinned site works just like an app, as it does when you do this from Chrome. That is, it does not have any browser UX at all, and it appears as its own process/app in the app switcher.
There is one difference: Firefox adds a little Firefox badge to the PWA’s home screen icon, whereas Chrome currently does not.
I love that Firefox is doing this. And I hope to see this capability coming to Windows as well, though of course Microsoft will be adding this support to Microsoft Edge in the next Windows 10 version too. (With further support for Store discoverability.)
Anyway, this looks great so far.
<p>I don't see how PWAs improve the user experience. So you download an app from a website rather than an app store. Seems like six of one, half a dozen of the other.</p>
<blockquote><a href="#223455"><em>In reply to hrlngrv:</em></a></blockquote><p>In trivial cases, sure, but implementing trivial code on multiple platforms my actually be easier than implementing a single trivial PWA. </p>
<blockquote><a href="#223589"><em>In reply to jimchamplin:</em></a></blockquote><p>I get your point but in cases where the last ounce of performance is required developers wouldn't be targeting mobile devices at all. They'd be targeting high performance PCs or high-end consoles. </p><p><br></p><p>But my primary point is that the idea that these schemes are going to save development effort is an assumption, not a certainty. </p><p><br></p><p>We live in a era where the software development pendulum has swung in the direction of coupling together the design of multiple platforms into a single codebase. But despite the prevailing philosophy, the complexities and the dangers of such an approach remain an issue. </p><p><br></p><p>These issues are a matter of trade-offs but these days we seem to follow "best practices" that embrace one option while pretending the other doesn't exist.</p>
<blockquote><a href="#223384"><em>In reply to MikeGalos:</em></a></blockquote><p>Yes, I should have said at best, it seems to offer no advantage. Funny, I actually got paid to write a HTML application about 6 years ago. I suppose it won't run if MS gets rid of IE someday, unless Edge supports them.</p>
<blockquote><a href="#223417"><em>In reply to Roger Ramjet:</em></a></blockquote><p>As Mike pointed out, it's least common denominator coding which leads to a non-optimal experience. Remember this siren song of WORA has been around since Pascal was invented but has never been truly achieved beyond CLI programs.</p>
<blockquote><a href="#223445"><em>In reply to hrlngrv:</em></a></blockquote><p>You're right, but mshta.exe requires IE components to work. It's that whole "what is or is not IE" issue that was such a big deal during MS's antitrust problems. </p><p><br></p><p>It will be interesting to see if Windows on ARM includes components like mshta.exe that would be required for full Windows 32-bit compatibility.</p><p><br></p><p>HTML applications won't run on my Windows 8.1 phone even though it includes a version of IE, so obviously some traditional components of IE were not included.</p>
<p>Lol….this is so strange that this is big news here. Lol.</p><p><br></p><p>Firefox has no choice, but to do this. They are so behind Chrome, that this is actually a no brainer.</p>