Microsoft working on feature that would allow websites to host an entire catalog of web apps

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Key notes

  • Microsoft Edge testing feature to simplify web app installation via dedicated buttons on websites.
  • Feature leverages Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) that offer app-like experience from web technologies.
  • Potential benefits include easier app discovery, improved user experience, and offline functionality for some apps.

Microsoft is currently testing a new feature within the Edge browser that can simplify the discovery and installation of web applications (web apps). What’s so special? This feature would allow websites to have buttons that let users directly install a related web app. Seen by Leopeva64 on X.

The functionality builds upon Progressive Web Apps (PWAs). PWAs are essentially web applications that use web tech (HTML, CSS, JavaScript) but provide an app-like experience. They can be installed on a user’s device for easier access and may even function offline in certain scenarios.

By having a designated install button directly on websites, users would have an easier path to shifting their preferred web experiences into app-like functionalities on their devices.

There are several potential benefits of implementing Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) on a website. Firstly, users may discover valuable web apps they were previously unaware of by browsing a web site’s list of installable options, which could lead to enhanced app discovery. 

Secondly, PWAs can provide a more app-like experience compared to only using a website within a browser, which can result in a smoother user experience. Also, some PWAs have offline functionality, which may be useful in situations where internet connectivity is unreliable, thus increasing accessibility.

On the other hand, while easily installable web apps offer convenience, there are important considerations to bear in mind. The expansion of these apps could result in device clutter, as users might install too many without proper discretion, like our mobile phones. 

In summary, Microsoft’s upcoming feature is being tested with the goal of making PWAs more user-friendly and discoverable. It will be interesting to observe the development of this feature and how other web browsers respond with their own approaches to web app integration.

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