Samsung Web Apps push could be its key to Google independence

Samsung is currently the king of Android phones and, by virtue of numbers, the biggest smartphone vendor in the world. It is no secret, however, that the company has always wanted to break free of its dependence on its long-time ally, especially now that Huawei has shown a fatal weakness in that arrangement. It has tried in the past with its own Tizen phone but that ended in a flop due to the lack of apps. Now it seems that Samsung may have stumbled on a solution thanks to the resurgence of web apps, particularly Progressive Web Apps or PWAs.

Web apps never really went away and actually goes far back before the term was coined. From Java weblets to Flash and Adobe Air to, now' HTML5 and JS libraries, web apps have appeared, disappeared, and reappeared like the tide on the shores of the software world. Now they're making a comeback as PWAs, ironically thanks to mobile devices that have their own native app formats and companies you'd expect would push for native apps.

Google and Microsoft are two of the biggest proponents of PWAs, the former because of its Web-centric business and the latter because of the repeated failure of its native application frameworks such as UWP. Coincidentally, Samsung is on the same boat as Microsoft in terms of growing their own app ecosystems. If you can't get developers to embrace your own frameworks and platforms, why not use what's already there and take the path of least resistance?

That might be the strategy behind Samsung's latest push for adding more PWAs to its Galaxy Store. Both it and Google Play Store already have systems in place to let developers convert PWAs into installable APKs that behave like native Android apps. Samsung is, however, taking it one step further by lower the barrier to entry even more. Developers only need submit the URL to their web app and, presuming it clears legal and security checks, Samsung will do all the packaging and uploading for them.

At least that's the theory and it seems to be in its very early days, available only US users of the Galaxy Store. If it actually succeeds, however, Samsung may have fewer problems making those apps work on its Smart TVs and Galaxy smartwatches. Or maybe even on a future non-Android phone.