Creating web apps that looked more like native apps was the presiding theme at Google’s Chrome Dev Summit this week. The company made several announcements and demonstrated apps designed to nudge web application experiences more towards those users are used to on their local machines.
In a blog post, developer advocate Pete LePage called for apps to have more native application features. He pointed to a new Capabilities page, containing a range of functions that developers were working on.
One of the first is a writable files API that enables web apps to interact directly with the native operating system file structure. Developers using this API can give users the ability to load and save files from the local machine. He highlighted other capabilities, including event alarms that enable web apps to schedule tasks on a local machine, and a wake lock API that stops mobile devices falling asleep when someone is using an app in a locked portrait mode.
In support of this native-like web apps push, Google highlighted its recent announcement of desktop browser support for Progressive Web Apps (PWAs), which it is supporting across Chrome for Windows and Linux. Mac support is scheduled for Chrome 72. This allows users to install Web apps that feel more like native apps, and are launchable from the desktop.
Also launched this week is a new online resource for web developers called web.dev, which is a site that helps web developers learn how to make their websites faster, more secure and reliable. It includes tools and techniques for common tasks like image compression and code splitting, and also allows developers to measure their own sites’ performance using tools like Lighthouse.
Lighthouse began as a Chrome extension, and Google followed suit with another developer-focused extension at the summit this week, called Project Visbug. This is an open source design tool that lets developers create their own web app user interfaces directly in the browser.
Google is also opening up its .dev TLD to the public starting early next year. It acquired this TLD in 2015, and made it internal, annoying developers. Now, they will be able to grab their own .dev domain starting in January. It has a Get .Dev site for that purpose.