YouTube Now Offers Progressive Web Apps Installation Prompts

The notable absence of a dedicated YouTube app for Windows is being rectified, as the website can now be accessed via a dedicated Progressive Web App (PWA).

This recent development, quietly slid into the Google Chrome omnibox in the form of an install prompt, was first noted by Yashpreet Singh. While it should be noted that the roll out of this feature isn’t technically recent, since people have reported it a few months prior, but this time the sample population seems to be much larger. This very fact also checks out when lined up against a recent announcement by Google themselves, urging platform developers to develop offline capabilities for their respective PWAs, with the threat of download prompts in the omnibox being withheld until such changes are implemented. PWAs are becoming the hot new topic in the tech world, and Google apparently wants to stay on top of it.

All this talk about PWA this and that, and we haven’t even taken the time to establish PWA's 'What'. Allow this author to rectify such errors. A PWA is essentially an application that’s built from web-based technologies, such as HTML and JavaScript, but still functions in almost the same capacity as a mobile device app. Many developers have gotten around to building PWA interfaces for their respective brands, with notable examples being Uber, Pinterest, The Washington Post, and even Starbucks. These are usually accessed in the form of visiting the website using a browser such as Chrome or Microsoft Edge. Upon visiting, the browser omnibox will have a plus sign next to the URL. Clicking it will lead to a popup text-box, asking users if they’d like to install the app. And voila! They now have virtually the same experience a proper mobile app can provide, and one that works across multiple OS.

While this author doesn’t necessarily see the YouTube PWA taking over its mobile app counterpart in terms of popularity, especially since as of yet the former doesn’t offer anywhere near the same amount of features as the latter, it’s still rather nice to get a separate dedicated window to YouTube on desktops. Especially considering how the platform has become a mainstay of any and all activities, be they leisurely or even more sober in nature (i.e. lecture videos or tutorials). At any rate, especially with Google’s PWA policies looming in the background, one can hope that down the line YouTube’s desktop interface will only continue to improve and develop offline capabilities similar to those of its mobile brethren.

Read next: Google Chrome's Future Updates May Hide Status Bar from Progressive Web Apps
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