What you need to know
- Netflix is testing a hosted web app for its service within the Microsoft Store.
- Hulu and Disney Plus are already progressive web apps.
- Offline support and some other features could be limited for now if Netflix swaps to a hosted web app.
Updated March 16, 2020: Microsoft's Brandon Paddock states on Twitter that Netflix "already is and always has been an HWA/WWA. While Netflix could be moving to follow the example of Hulu and Netflix, this HWA listing could be unrelated. The original story follows.
Netflix is testing a hosted web app within the Microsoft Store. Aggiornamenti Lumia spotted the Microsoft Store listing, which is titled "NetflixHWA." The app's summary reads, "This is a test app for the Netflix Hosted Web App." Some of Netflix's competitors have progressive web apps, including Disney+ and Hulu, and it appears that Netflix is looking to move in the same direction.
As our executive editor Daniel Rubino points out, support for offline content and some other features are in a grey area for hosted web apps. Microsoft's Kyle Pflug, who works on Microsoft Edge, has discussed offline support for streaming apps in the past. Pflug said on January 31 that Microsoft has "Talked to some streaming partners in depth about this and in heard specific feedback that they need more robust filesystem access to deliver the offline experience they want. PWAs will get there but it's reasonable to say they aren't yet."
Switching to a hosted web app would allow Netflix to share updates across platforms more easily. A developer page from Microsoft breaks down progressive web apps and briefly mentions their relation to hosted web apps. The page explains that "PWAs are a natural evolution of hosted web apps, but with standards-based support for offline scenarios, thanks to the Service Workers, Cache, and Push APIs." While the Netflix app in testing is referred to as a hosted web app, there's also a chance that Netflix could make it a progressive web app to have more functionality.
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