What’s Next for the Web?—Google Developer Days Europe

During this year’s Google Developer Days Europe (GDD), devs could catch up with all the juicy news on Google’s latest digital products and concepts as well as learn how to code quality web apps. We were most excited about the new features in Chrome, laid out in Thomas Steiner’s What’s Next for the Web panel.

Let’s see some of the new stuff Google prepared for our browsers.

The Rise of Progressive Web Apps (PWA)

Progressive web apps dominated the GDD’s part devoted to web development. And no wonder, PWAs adapt to the conditions of a user’s device and internet connection to provide the best viewing experience possible.

Progressive web apps use the latest web technologies, combining “the best of the web and the best of apps.” Speed, reliability, and user engagement were the three key features used to describe progressive web apps during GDD. Undoubtedly, 2018 will be the year of PWA.

Introducing Full-Screen Websites to Mobile Devices

To enhance the UX on mobile devices, websites in Chrome will soon be viewed on the whole screen—a move that will completely change our browsing experience. You’ll have a hard time distinguishing between a web app and a native mobile app.

You can already glimpse how it looks like by visiting https://paperplanes.world/ on your mobile device. This new Chrome’s functionality is a real treat for businesses that rely on impeccable graphics and immersive experience to sell.

Registering with One-Tap Sign-Up API

This functionality is currently still in the testing phase, but once it goes live, it could revolutionize the registration process on mobile devices. The idea is to allow the user to log in or create a new account with just one tap.

Here’s how it would look like:

Source: developers.google.com

Recognizing Objects with Shape Detection API

Shape Detection API enables face detection, barcode reading, and optical recognition of characters on the website. The API identifies all those elements in real-time, scanning images, videos, and canvas objects. It’s a feature with many different use cases, from face tagging to user registration to identification via QR codes.

Shape Detection API in action:

Source: Google Developers YouTube

Growing Capabilities of WebVR

Virtual reality conquers industries from healthcare to real estate to architecture, and now it’s also making its way into our browsers. WebVR is an open standard project aiming to promote VR technology so that everyone can experience it regardless of a device.

The feature is still in the making, but you can already check out a few exciting projects based on this new standard.

Detecting User’s Network Speed

With this upcoming functionality, improving user experience might become easier. The Network Information API detects a user’s current internet speed. Equipped with that data, the developers will be able to prepare various versions of a website, appropriate for different internet speeds.

As a result, users with a slow connection will see images with lower resolution to make the site load faster. Another benefit of this functionality is the real-time detection of sudden drops in internet speed, making it possible for the content to load accordingly to those fluctuations.

Analyzing Load Time with Navigation Timing API

The Navigation Timing API lets developers check how long a website loads in user’s browser and analyze various metrics of web page load time. With that data, it’s much easier to adjust all elements of a website so that the total loading time drops. This functionality is a real gem for developers intending to improve user experience and shave off load time.

Tracking Load Effectiveness of Website Objects

The Paint Timing API allows checking how fast and which elements of a website reached the user. The new functionality helps to answer questions like:

  • How fast any content at all appeared in the user’s browser?
  • How long did it take to render the first relevant piece of content?

Keep in mind that website’s background and other graphic elements might load very fast, but they have little value to the user. The more important question is how long it took for the valuable content, e.g., product description, to load.

You want to make sure users see the most meaningful information about your website first.

More Interactivity with Bluetooth API

This functionality is already partially implemented in Chrome on Android M+, Linux, macOS, and Chrome OS. The Bluetooth API allows web apps to communicate with nearby devices by Bluetooth 4.0 via GATT (Generic Attribute Profile) standard. Bluetooth communication directly from a browser opens the door to a world of possibilities, or rather any door that is equipped with Bluetooth.

Just check out how awesome that feature is—Controlling Bluetooth “candles.”

And in case you’re wondering about security, any pairing requires an HTTPS connection. Also, a device’s detection must be initiated by a user gesture, e.g., a mouse click.

As we always strive to make our web pages load faster, these new performance APIs will sure prove useful in our day-to-day work at Polcode. Equipped with a fresh set of PWA-related features for Chrome, we’ll be able to create even more engaging and immersive experiences. The new tools will let us build apps that adjust to different internet connection speeds and work seamlessly across devices.

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