Chromium is an open-source web browser from which Google’s own Chrome browser is based on. Even if both browsers share the majority of the source code, several minor differences exist; it is known that if a major feature hits the Chromium project, it will most likely be added to Google Chrome once it is stable enough for a public release. Lately, Google has been working hard to improve the overall functionality of their own browser, specially in the web apps area. In the Chrome beta 43 for Android, Google introduced a new way to install web applications as well as their native counterparts to the user’s device by simply tapping a button in a small banner, after installing the app, it will be seamlessly accessible directly from their device’s home screen. Today, Chromium’s latest build, shows new hints of a similar functionality that might make its way into the desktop version of the Chrome browser, users will be able to add websites to their browser’s app shelf in a simple manner.
To test this new feature made public by Fran§ois Beaufort, you have to first install the latest build of Chromium and then navigate to chrome://flags/ , once you are in the “Flags” section, you have to enable “Add to shelf” and that’s it. After you activate the “Add to shelf” feature, Chromium will then automatically prompt you to add a website to your app shelf. But in order to take advantage of this new useful feature, websites have to meet a certain criteria; the prompt to install will only appear if the website has “a web app manifest file, a service worker, it is served over HTTPS and you’ve visited it twice over two separate days during the course of two weeks”. However, Google noted that the criteria will most likely evolve in the future.
The Chromium team experimenting with web app install banners shows how committed Google is towards the goal of creating a unified environment between Chrome and Android. With recent updates to both the desktop and mobile version of Chrome, this has become more apparent, as the whole process of installing or adding a shortcut to a web app is as simple as pressing a button.