It’s been less than six months since Zoom released its progressive web app to the Google Play Store as a replacement for its traditionally packaged Chrome Web Store app, and according to 9to5Google, the company is already killing the latter.
Instead of being able to initiate calls in the web store app, users now receive a message that they need to upgrade their Zoom client to join the meeting. You can still install the old app, but it is no longer supported and there is no front-end or easily accessible listing for it if you search the online store. Instead, you’ll need to visit Zoom on the web and use the install prompt found in the Chrome browser Omnibox.
You can also open the Google Play Store on your Chromebook, search for “Zoom PWA“, and click Install on it! More and more progressive web apps have entered the Google app store over the past year, including many of its own, like Google News, Youtube Music, etc.
Apparently, this change where PWA is almost a requirement for most users has only happened in the last month or less, and it looks like it might not have been the smartest move yet. . Normally, companies only switch users to new software when it has parity and stability of functionality, although, admittedly, not so much these days. Zoom’s PWA Gallery view is not supported on Google Chromebooks, many bugs persist, such as blank screens during video calls and even sporadic audio cuts. According to 9to5, the web application even periodically disconnected them for no reason – strange!
Perhaps the worst offender of this new setup is that every time a user clicks on a Zoom invite link, they are asked to install the old and outdated Chrome online store app instead of the open straight into the new and shiny PWA. I have experienced this myself over the past few weeks, as many of my contacts still prefer to use Zoom for various reasons instead of Google Meet. The service has become quite competitive with Google and has even matched its efforts to provide free and unlimited calling during the holidays of last year.
Obviously, this is just not good. All of these bugs mean that the product is nearly unusable for many, or at the very least, very confusing for most. The fact that Chromebooks already struggle to have three versions of popular apps like Google Keep – Chrome app, web app, and Play Store app – is ludicrous.
Google is going to have to do something about these app identity issues before long, and hopefully other companies like Zoom will follow suit. I hope they lead the way, proud to understand and keep up with the ever-changing demands of the ecosystem and to deliver something consistent to their audience. These bugs will undoubtedly be fixed, but the only question is how long will it take.