Installing a PWA on Android does more than just add the Progressive Web App to the user's Home Screen. Chrome automatically generates and installs a special APK of your app. We sometimes refer to this as a WebAPK. Being installed via an APK makes it possible for your app to show up in the app launcher, in Android's app settings and to register a set of intent filters.
Android intent filters
When a Progressive Web App is installed on Android, it will register a set of intent filters for all URLs within the scope of the app. When a user clicks on a link that is within the scope of the app, the app will be opened, rather than opening within a browser tab.
Consider the following partial
"start_url": "/", "display": "standalone",
When a web app using it is launched from the app launcher, it would open
https://example.com/ as a standalone app, without any browser chrome.
The WebAPK would include the following intent filters:
<intent-filter> <action android:name="android.intent.action.VIEW" /> <category android:name="android.intent.category.DEFAULT" /> <category android:name="android.intent.category.BROWSABLE" /> <data android:scheme="https" android:host="example.com" android:pathPrefix="/" /> </intent-filter>
If the user clicks on a link within an installed app to
https://example.com/read, it would be caught by the intent and opened
in the Progressive Web App.
scope to restrict intent filters
If you don't want your Progressive Web App to handle all URLs within your site,
you can add the
scope property to
your web app manifest. The
scope property tells Android to only open your web
app if the URL matches the
scope. It gives you control over which
URLs will be handled by your app, and which should be opened in the browser.
This is helpful when you have your app and other non-app content on the same
Consider the following partial
"scope": "/app/", "start_url": "/app/", "display": "standalone",
When launched from the app launcher, it would open
as a standalone app, without any browser chrome.
Like before, the generated WebAPK would include an intent filter, but with a
android:pathPrefix attribute in the APK's
<intent-filter> <action android:name="android.intent.action.VIEW" /> <category android:name="android.intent.category.DEFAULT" /> <category android:name="android.intent.category.BROWSABLE" /> <data android:scheme="https" android:host="example.com" android:pathPrefix="/app/" /> </intent-filter>
Let's take a look at a few examples:
https://example.com/app/ - within
https://example.com/app/read/book - within
https://example.com/help/ - not in
https://example.com/about/ - not in
scope for more information about
scope, what happens when you don't set it, and how you can use it to define
the scope of your app.
Permissions work in the same way as other web apps and cannot be requested at install time. Instead, they must be requested at run time, ideally only when you really need them. For example, don't ask for camera permission on first load, but instead wait until the user attempts to take a picture.
Managing storage and app state
Even though the progressive web app is installed via an APK, Chrome uses the current profile to store any data, and it will not be segregated away. This allows a shared experience between the browser and the installed app. Cookies are shared and active, any client side storage is accessible and the service worker is installed and ready to go.
Updating the WebAPK
Information on how a WebAPK is updated has moved to How Chrome handles updates to the web app manifest.
Frequently asked questions
- What icons are used to generate the splash screen?
We recommend you provide at least two icons:
192px and 512px for the splash screen.
We heard from you that icons on the splash screen were too small. WebAPKs generated in Chrome 71 or later will show a larger icon on the splash screen. No action is required, as long as the recommended icons are provided.
- What happens if the user has already installed the native app for the site?
- Like add to home screen today, users will be able to add a site independent of any native apps. If you expect users to potentially install both, we recommend differentiating the icon or name of your site from your native app.
- Will my installed site's storage be cleared if the user clears Chrome's cache?
- Will my app be re-installed when I get a new device?
- Not at this time, but we think it is an important area and we are investigating ways to make it work.
- How are permissions handled? Will I see the Chrome prompt or Android's?
- Permissions will still be managed through Chrome. Users will see the Chrome prompts to grant permissions and will be able to edit them in Chrome settings.
- What versions of Android will this work on?
- Progressive web apps can be installed on all versions of Android that run Chrome for Android, specifically Jelly Bean and above.
- Does this use the WebView?
- No, the site opens in the version of Chrome the user added the site from.
- Can we upload the APKs that are created to the Play Store?
- No. If you want to upload your own APK, check out Trusted Web Activities.
- Are these listed in the Play Store?
- No. If you want to upload your own APK for listing in the Play Store, check out Trusted Web Activities.
- I am a developer of another browser on Android, can I have this seamless install process?
- We are working on it. We are committed to making this available to all browsers on Android and we will have more details soon.