Web applications come in all forms, but Progressive Web Applications (PWA) are among the best, as they are essentially a marriage between native applications and websites. On Chrome OS, they are as close as possible to the appropriate programs, many of which benefit from offline support. If you are used to working with Windows or macOS, PWAs can make it easier for you to spend your work day at home, but you can also use them on any platform to improve your productivity.
Look for the plus button in your address bar to add a PWA to your Chromebook or laptop.
It is also possible to install PWA on Android (and iOS), which should be useful for some of the applications presented in this overview. Access one of the applications in Chrome or Firefox, press the three-dot overflow menu on the right, then press "Add home screen". Depending on how the developers implement mobile support, you may barely be able to discern these projects from normal Android apps.
Google Drive is no real PWA with an option to create a desktop shortcut since the start of this year, after YouTube Music and Google Photos. The Drive app itself is really just a glorified shortcut to the normal Drive experience in your browser window. When you want to edit documents, you are even thrown into the standard tabbed navigation interface. However, if you prefer to use windows for file management rather than tabs, the PWA may be for you. Of course, you can also stick to the file manager built into Chrome OS to access your Drive.
SimpleNote is my ideal note-taking app for things that need a little more space and formatting options than those available in Google Keep. The software is based on markup for formatting, so you must be familiar with this cheatsheet to add titles, lists, links and images. You can even share final notes as read-only links, which allows you to share pretty notes with clients or colleagues.
If you need to send files from colleagues or customers, Send Firefox is a great privacy friendly solution. You can use it for transmissions up to 1 GB without logging in and 2.5 GB when you create an account. The links you send automatically expire after a certain time and downloads. It's like WeTransfer, but you can assign it a dedicated place in your taskbar as a PWA.
Snapdrop is a handy tool if you need to transfer files from your Chromebook to another machine or phone on your network and vice versa. Just open the PWA on both devices, and they will be visible to each other. You can then drag and drop any file you want to send to the target and voila, you can download it to the other machine. This could be even more useful after the locks are completed, as you can also use the application to send files to colleagues using the same network.
We already covered 5217 in our Android app guide for home work, but the project is also available as PWA. It is a timer that allows you to work fully concentrated for 52 minutes and take a break of 17 minutes. If you're struggling with discipline, it could help get you back on track with time management. There is also another so-called Pomodoro Technique, where you focus for 25 minutes and take five-minute breaks – check out Tomatenow if it's your jam.
at home there are many distractions – your children, your special person, the noises from neighbors or from the street. You can get earphones to block them, but if it's not in your budget right now, an app like SoundDrown could do the job. It creates a selection of four white noise sounds whose height varies a little. It is possible to combine them as you wish. There are many similar services that mimic ambient coffee noises, rain, waves, etc., but this can be installed as a PWA. Of course, you can also listen to music that isn't too distracting – personally, I tend to lo-fi hip hop or scores from movies and games while writing.
Unlike classic task apps like Todoist or TickTick, Redberry uses a more minimalist approach. You can add tasks in the form of an infinitely expandable bulleted list with subtasks in the form of indented lists. You can't add chance dates and you can't add sophistry notes, but I personally like this minimalism – I worked with a Word document the same way a long time ago, and I really like the way it forces you to break down your tasks into easy to digest pieces. The application can be used without an account, but if you want to synchronize your tasks with other devices, you need it.
Other more popular task list apps like Todoist, TickTick and Microsoft To Do also have fully functional websites, but they are not technically PWA installable (although you can always add a shortcut to them in the task bar of your Chromebook).
If you have a lot of repeating tasks after a while and want to keep them in a separate list, The Weekr might be for you. The web application interface displays your left tasks and gives you a right weekly calendar. You can add your tasks to the panel and create checkpoints under the dates or days of the week when your items are due. The interface isn't the most intuitive, because you have to press incredibly small buttons to edit or save tasks, but once you get the basics, it's not too bad. To use the multiplatform application, you must create an account.
If you need to edit images on your Chromebook, you can use the open source Linux GIMP tool or a web application. Photopea, in particular, is an efficient and free Photoshop alternative. It gives you the same basic tools also available in other image editors and is capable of opening Photoshop files, so when your colleagues send you their projects, you can always view them. Keep in mind that the free and ad-supported version only allows you to cancel a total of 30 steps, so watch how many changes you make to your projects at one time.
There is also Pixlr E, which is prettier and even more efficient than Photopea. It is not a PWA, but you can always add it to your taskbar if you prefer to work with it.
PhotoStack is a batch photo editor that allows you to add watermarks to your images or reduce their quality and change their file format. You can also delete EXIF data, which allows other people to identify the camera you used and even where you took it (if your camera is recording GPS data, i.e. ). The images are processed locally, so that your photos never leave your computer, and you can consult the open-source code of the tool on Github. It is developed by our own Corbin Davenport.
Another piece of advice: you can turn almost any website into a native application by clicking on the three dot overflow menu -> More tools -> Create a shortcut. Just make sure to check the "Open as window" box in the next dialog. You can also add shortcuts like these to your Android phone's home screen, but they'll just open in a normal Chrome tab.
Yes, you can assign any website to a dedicated location in your taskbar, even Android Police.
All in all, these PWAs should help you recreate some of the workflows you're used to from your Windows or Mac professional machine. Some could also help you improve your focus and block your environment when things get too wild at home. If you want to find other PWAs not necessarily focused on productivity, go to the PWA repository Appsco.pe.