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Introducing a Trusted Web Activity for Android

February 5th, 2019

A Trusted Web Activity (TWA) displays a full screen Chrome browser inside of an Android app with no browser UI. Although Android apps routinely include web content using a Chrome Custom Tab (CCT) or WebView, a TWA offers unique advantages when you need Chrome’s performance and features in your app in full screen mode.

In this post I’ll introduce you to TWAs, review suggested use cases and link to resources to get you started.

What’s different about a Trusted Web Activity?

A Trusted Web Activity runs a Chrome browser full screen in an Android app, meaning there is no browser UI visible in the app, including the URL bar. This is a powerful capability so we need to verify that the app and the site belong to the same developer – hence ‘Trusted’. To verify that the app and the site opened in the TWA belong to the same developer, a TWA uses Digital Asset Links to certify ownership.

Because a TWA is a special case of a Chrome Custom Tab (CCT), it has access to all Chrome features and functionality including many not available to a WebView. If you’re not familiar with Chrome Custom Tabs, this article provides a complete overview. Some of the features of a TWA not available in a WebView include web push notifications, background sync, Chrome form autofill, Media Source Extensions (MSE) and the Sharing API.

Just like a CCT, a website loaded in a TWA shares stored data with the Chrome browser, including cookies. This implies shared session state, which for most sites means that if a user has previously signed into your website in Chrome they will also be signed into the TWA.

What can I use a TWA for?

TWAs are great for including full screen web content in an Android application where you need Chrome features not available in a WebView or if shared origin storage with the Chrome browser makes your user journey easier.

An example of this is an e-commerce site where product pages are implemented in native views but the checkout flow takes place on the website. By using a TWA your app will have Chrome’s performance and can use Chrome’s one tap signup and automatic form filling features.

Trusted Web Activity Criteria

All content in TWAs must comply with Play store policy including policies for payments in-app purchases and other digital goods.

App users expect a great experience on their device. To ensure the quality of experience TWAs must meet PWA installability criteria and load fast. Loading speed is measured using Lighthouse and web content in TWAs must achieve a performance score of 80. Lighthouse is an open-source, automated tool for auditing performance & progressive web apps and is useful both as a benchmark and to help you build better websites.

As with any Play app, additional quality criteria may apply in the future. Apps which fail to meet TWA quality requirements or Play store policy may be denied entry or delisted.

Trusted Web Activity content security and version availability

The content of a TWA is protected and cannot be read or modified by the enclosing application. That means state can only be shared from the app to the TWA when it is initialized by passing in query string parameters and it is not possible to insert content into the TWA from the Android application.

TWAs are available on devices running Android KitKat or newer (over 95% of Android devices) with Chrome installed. If Chrome is installed but is out of date, for example due to user disabled Chrome updates, a Chrome Custom Tab is automatically substituted for the TWA.

Your first Trusted Web Activity.

Getting started documentation & example code for TWAs is in development and will be released soon. In the meantime reference documentation is included below.

Posted by Peter Mclachlan, Product Manager