Google today announced that the number of Chrome users on mobile doubled from 400 million 30-day actives to 800 million over the course of the last year. That’s a mix of Android and iOS users. The company sadly doesn’t break out usage numbers by operating system, but it’s a fair guess that the vast majority of Chrome users on mobile are on Android.
Google’s product management lead for the Chrome web platform, Alex Komoroske, told me earlier this week that this is just one of the numbers his team looks at. Google is also very interested in seeing how developers pick up new web technologies.
While Google says it sees web apps and native apps a complimentary, Komoroske did note that he believes the web allows developers to reach a large audience. “But historically, once you got them [to your site], it was hard to engage them and create a relationship with them,” he noted.
Komoroske argues that the combination of many of these new web standards and technologies, including service workers (for building better offline experiences), web push notifications, and the ability to save app shortcuts on the home screen, enable developers to build this deeper relationship with users.
At the same time, they are also pushing the web to a new round of innovation that isn’t unlike the advent of AJAX about 15 years ago. He stressed that Google is shipping many of these technologies in Chrome, but co-designed them with Mozilla and others in the browser ecosystem.
“As we are seeing developers take advantage of these technologies, it seems like we are on the cusp of something different,” he said. “Like Ajax on the desktop. It was using technologies in a new way and raised the bar in how users expected sites to behave.”
Komoroske cited projects like Flipkart Lite and the Guardian’s new mobile offline site (which defaults to a crossword puzzle when you are offline) as examples for what users now expect.
Google says it now sees about 350 million push notifications, for example, from about 2,300 different domains (though that majority of these probably comes from a small number of very popular sites like Facebook, which recently launched this feature for mobile browsers). Komoroske also told me that Google is now seeing about 2.2 billion page loads a day from sites that use service workers.
Google calls these new, even more app-like sites “progressive web apps” — that is, sites that have the properties of the web, but use new web technologies to get app-like engagement. The terminology isn’t completely new, but it looks like Google is now stressing it in its marketing and using it as a guide for the further development of Chrome, especially on mobile.