Firefox for Android is getting the ability to add web apps to your home screen. The feature will be available to all users with the upcoming version 58 update, but you can try it out early in the latest Firefox Nightly release.
Mozilla admits that Google Chrome has been spearheading the Progressive Web Apps (PWA) effort and that it is somewhat late to the party. But the company has been heavily involved behind the scenes, adding Service Workers and Push, two technologies that power PWAs.
Now it is continuing its commitment by bringing Web App Manifest support to Firefox for Android in the form of home screen web apps. Firefox version 58 will give users “Add to Home screen” functionality when they visit a supported website.
When a Firefox 58 user arrives on a website that is served over HTTPS and has a valid manifest, a subtle badge will appear in the address bar: when tapped, an “Add to Home screen” confirmation dialog will slide in, through which the web app can be added to the Android home screen.
When you open a web app in Firefox, it will be shown in the “configured view mode and orientation,” and will appear as a separate entry in the app switcher — just like a native app. Mozilla also has a neat method of handling external links from web apps.
When you tap an external link, it will open in a Custom Tab. This allows the URL and safety information to be displayed, while speeding up page load times (Custom Tabs load faster than the full browser), and preserving the PWA’s color branding.
If your favorite website isn’t a supported web app, you will still have the ability to “Add Page Shortcut” to your home screen so that’s it’s easier to access. It just won’t act in the same way a PWA does; it will continue to work just like a normal webpage.
Again, you’ll need to wait for Firefox 58 to rollout to enjoy web app support, and Mozilla hasn’t yet confirmed when it will be available. However, you can download Firefox Nightly to try it early.