Create a shortcut to a Web app using Chrome Beta on Android

The latest Chrome Beta for Android introduced the ability to add shortcuts to Web sites and Web apps to your home screen.

Chrome Beta running Forecast.io as a Web app. Notice there's no address bar, or any buttons from Chrome presented in the app. Jason Cipriani/CNET

Last week Google released another build of Chrome Beta for Android. The normal bug fixes and refined features, as well as new issues were introduced in the public beta of Chrome. Perhaps one of the more interesting changes in the Chrome Beta is the introduction of a tried and true method for adding a shortcut to a Web site or Web app to your Android device's home screen.

Adding a shortcut is nothing new on Android, as we've shown you in the past , but the way it's implemented in this build (which will eventually make its way to the non-beta version of Chrome for Android) is very different.

Previously you could only add a shortcut to a bookmark you had saved in Chrome. Now you can create a shortcut to any Web site you visit with just a couple of taps. Also, the previous method would only launch Chrome and open a browsing session, whereas the new feature treats any Web site that's set up as a Web app as just that -- an app.

Take the Forecast.io site as an example. It's built to act as a Web app when a user adds it to his home screen. That's how it's worked on iOS from day one, and now that's how it will work on Android.

Screenshot by Jason Cipriani/CNET

Visit the site of your choosing in Chrome Beta, then tap on the menu button. Toward the bottom of the options list, you'll see "Add to homescreen"; tap on it.

You'll then be prompted to enter a name for the site or app, and then select Save.

An icon will then be placed on one of the home screens on your device. In my experience, not all sites seem to have the proper icon available for Android to use for the Web shortcut. Forecast.io shows a default app icon, but CNET How To shows the CNET logo. Even Facebook.com used the default icon and not a Facebook icon.

Now when I launch Forecast.io from my home screen, instead of seeing the address bar and options Chrome normally presents, I'm taken to a screen stripped of all the clutter and shown only the content I want to see, in the same way I would expect an app to present information to me.

If you're not the kind to take on beta builds of apps and would prefer to wait for the feature on the stable build of Chrome for Android, that's fine. But if you'd like to take advantage of cutting-edge features, with an understanding that things won't always work and could break at any moment, then download Chrome Beta for Android right now.

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About the author

Jason Cipriani has been covering mobile technology news for over five years. His work spans from CNET How To and software review sections to WIRED’s Gadget Lab and Fortune.com.

 

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