In their quest to make Progressive Web Apps indistinguishable from native apps, Google is working on allowing PWAs to register as file handlers for specific extensions, much like native apps can.

This would for example mean that double-clicking on a file type would open that file directly in the PWA.

“The goal for this project is to implement an API that will allow Chrome progressive web apps (PWAs) to ‘handle’ (read) files in the host OS’s file system, in much the same way as a native app would,” said Google engineer Darwin Huang in a design document seen by Techtsp. “This dovetails with the larger objective of increasing transparency between web apps and native apps, enabling a more consistent user experience across both per the Progressive Web App (PWA) paradigm”

Web apps would be able to declare the MIME type they support in their manifest. Users will be able to allow or block the registration of the file type, and users will be asked for permission every time an app wants to write to a file it has opened.

The feature can already be tested in Chrome or Edge under the File Handling API flag and should be available on all platforms.

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