Apps chrome

Chrome’s latest experience improves the appearance of web apps

Google has been working on dozens of new features for web apps in Chrome over the past few years, allowing software like Photoshop to run in a browser. Another improvement is currently in progress: borderless windows for web applications.

The Google Chrome team today announced an “intent to prototype” for “borderless mode for installed desktop web apps”, which would allow web apps installed on a computer to fully control (and change the appearance de) the title bar. Currently, most web apps use the default system title bar when installed, which also has buttons to open Chrome menus. Web apps have the ability to cover part of the title bar area at this time, but not the entire area.

Window Control Overlay Example
Example of the current ‘window control overlay’ Google

The new feature would allow web applications to create their own close, minimize, and maximize buttons, and add controls to the title bar area. Most web apps won’t need this feature, but some can use it to squeeze more content into the title bar area, just like native desktop apps. For example, apps like Slack, Discord, and Microsoft Excel use the full title bar for additional buttons and commands.

If the feature rolls out in a Chrome update, it could lead to web apps looking more like their native counterparts. Many games also use borderless windows as an alternative to full screen mode.

Microsoft Excel picture
Microsoft Excel on Mac, a sample desktop application with a custom title bar

The current plan is that borderless windows in web apps require granting permission, as it would hide the security and extensions info panel that Chrome adds to all windows. It also won’t work unless you install the web app first. Both of these safeguards should therefore prevent malicious web applications from using the functionality (eg, disguising the window as a security prompt or other system service).

It’s not yet clear if other web browsers will implement the feature, assuming limited testing in Chrome encounters no issues.

Source: Google Groups