Update: The new Zoom PWA is now available here, a day earlier than expected. Original story follows.
On Tuesday, June 29, the Google Play Store will have a new Zoom app available. According to a blog post on Zoom’s site, this will be a new Progressive Web App, or PWA, bringing a much better experience to use Zoom on a Chromebook. Android Police first reported this news.
I’m sure most readers are familiar with Zoom but they may not be sure what a PWA is.
Essentially, these are web apps that act more like traditional software that you’d install on a computer. They have their own independent window instance, like an Android app, for example.
Behind the scenes, however, they’re built completely on web technologies just like any other web app you’d run in a browser tab.
And the functionality of PWAs has been expanding steadily, making them more on par with traditional software. PWA app shortcuts will support notification badges, for example, and PWAs can automatically open when clicking on a web link associated with an app. Essentially, the goal of PWAs is to replace “in browser” applications with full application functionality.
Having used Zoom on a Chromebook for my most recent Computer Science college classes, I can’t wait to get the PWA installed.
While the browser-based version of Zoom was fine, it’s a little clunky to have a Zoom browser tab open among several other tabs with course materials, research and, in my case, an online code editor. Breaking out the Zoom browser tab helped a little but a truly independent Zoom app is more effective.
Even better is that the new PWA to run Zoom on a Chromebook will have most of the desktop version features and additional features that the browser-based solution doesn’t have:
- Customizable Gallery View (on supported machines)
- Self-select Breakout Rooms
- Live transcription
- Live translation (with assigned interpreters)
- A new background masking feature for privacy
- Raised hand and meeting reactions
Compared to the feature set I used in the browser, these are very welcome improvements that bring the Zoom experience more in line with its desktop software.