Those familiar with the Firefox browser for Android know that it is possible to install web apps on a device from the Firefox Marketplace. This isn’t the regular installation process though as a shortcut of the web app will appear on the home screen and clicking on it will launch the app in a browser window minus the browser interface.
The recent release of Firefox 29 beta introduces a new feature where web apps can be installed as if they were regular Android apps. This feature will soon be coming to the stable version of the browser soon.
If you already have Firefox 29 beta installed on your Android device then you can click on the menu button, tools, Apps to get to the Firefox Marketplace. When you choose to install any app it will download the data and launch the Android installation menu. Once installed, the app will not only be visible on your home screen but it will also appear in the Android app drawer and will even appear in the recent apps menu.
Mozilla calls this new feature the APK Factory. The company announced in its blog post that “We have been working on making web apps be real on the desktop for some time. On the desktop, if you install a web app, Firefox will repackage the app as a desktop app so that it will integrate perfectly with the rest of your system – as outlined in more detail in Progress report on cross-platform Open Web Apps.”
“That means being in the Start menu on Windows, or in the Launch Control screen on Mac OS X.”
“From Firefox 29, that will apply to Android too.”
“This means that as a web developer, you can rely on a modern, up-to-date web runtime on Android to run your web apps. Even better, that web runtime is provided by an ordinary Android app, which means it will stay modern and up-to-date, and you can finally say goodbye to the Android Browser.”
Web app developers who wish to take advantage of this latest feature don’t need to do anything to make their apps into native Android apps. Once the web app has been submitted to the Firefox Marketplace the company software will handle everything. Apps that re hosted on the web will be updated automatically and if downloading data is required Firefox will notify the user of an update.
If the Firefox browser were to be uninstalled the web apps will still remain on the device however they won’t work. Tapping on the app will launch the Google Play Store link to the Firefox browser.