Android includes a feature that few use and even fewer know about. This feature is called progressive web apps (PWA). These apps can be installed, without the need for any app store, and live on the Android home screen. PWAs offer an immersive, fullscreen experience and can even offer web push notifications. Think of progressive web apps as advanced web pages that can be added to your home screen and offer app-like features.

Why would you bother with PWAs–especially when the sites in question have associated apps? One reason is internal storage. If your device is running dangerously short on storage, PWAs are an easy remedy for using sites in a near-app form, without having to install the actual apps.

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The problem is, not all developers have gotten on board with progressive web apps. The list is pretty short, but includes the likes of:

  • Flipkart
  • Instagram
  • Spotify
  • Telegram
  • Twitter
  • Uber
  • Android Messages
  • AliExpress
  • Flipboard
  • Pinterest
  • Starbucks
  • Tinder
  • Washington Post
  • Google Maps
  • Google Photos
  • Google Drive

With the help of Google Drive, I am going to show you how to install and use a progressive web app.

What you’ll need

The only thing you’ll need is an Android device running at least version 6 or newer.

How to install the Google Drive progressive web app

In order to install the Google Drive progressive web app (or any PWA, for that matter), open the Chrome web browser and point it to the site in question. Once the site loads, tap the top menu button in the upper-right corner.

From the menu drop-down, tap Add To Home Screen (Figure A).

Figure A


Adding Google Drive to the Android home screen.

In the resulting popup (Figure B), give the PWA a name and tap Add.

Figure B


Giving the PWA a name.

A new window will open, asking you to add a widget to the screen. You only have one option (1 x 1), so tap Add Automatically (Figure C).

Figure C


Adding the PWA widget.

The window will be dismissed and you should now see the launcher for the Google Drive progressive web app (Figure D).

Figure D


The Google Drive PWA is ready.

How to use the Google Drive progressive web app

You shouldn’t be surprised when I tell you that using the progressive web app is exactly like using either the web site through Chrome or the Android app. The only difference is the PWA is full screen and looks slightly different (Figure E).

Figure E


Android app on the left, PWA on the right.

And that’s all there is to installing and using progressive web apps from the Android home screen. You might find them a convenient method of gaining quick access to certain websites, without having to install their associated apps.