Edge, Chrome PWAs set to look more like native apps

March 29, 2021

More software news. Microsoft has, for a while now, tried to make PWAs on its Edge web browser feel more like native Windows apps. For example, by making them appear in the Start Menu alongside regular applications.

But Passive Web Apps are still far off from behaving like regular applications

As in, a lot of work remains.

However, it now looks that some more work is being done on improving PWAs when they are open and in use. This is thanks to a feature called Windows Control Overlay that is meant to help PWAs look more like native Windows applications.

And while the feature is being developed by a team at Microsoft, it is being contributed directly to the Chromium project, meaning Chrome users will also benefit from it once it is fully implemented. More details are available in its GitHub repository, which explains the feature.

PWA Windows Controls

Basically, the team believes that there is no great approach to implementing user interface for a PWA on desktops at this time, because developers have to choose between removing all of the UI elements like windows controls in the top corner, or keeping the title bar full.

The full screen option is only used on mobile devices powered by Android and iOS, since those platforms have no need for a close or minimize button.

Windows Control Overlay, however, brings about a new approach that lets developers make full use of the window area to display content. But the windows controls are overlaid on top of it in accordance with the usual look of the OS.

Redmond gives a few examples of apps built on Electron that have menu items next to windows controls, and these includes applications like Microsoft Teams or Spotify.

Now, browser-based applications would also be able to do the same.

The feature is still in development, and it will also be up to each website to implement the improved design once it is available. So, it will be a while before we get to see the effects of this new approach in action on PWAs.

But seeing as these types of applications are the future of the Windows platform, particularly for an OS like the upcoming Windows 10X, it is good to see Microsoft take care of this little factor early on.

The mission continues.

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Fahad Ali is a professional freelancer, specializing in technology, web design and development and enterprise applications. He is the primary contributor to this website. When he is not typing away on his keyboard, he is relaxing to some soft jazz.