Well-deployed technologies

The Page Visibility specification lets developers detect when their application is in the foreground, and thus adapt their operations and resource consumption accordingly.

Mobile devices follow their users everywhere, and many mobile users rely on them to remind them or notify them of events, such as messages: the Web Notifications specification enables that feature in the Web environment.

FeatureSpecification / GroupMaturityCurrent implementations
Select browsers…
Foreground detectionPage Visibility (Second Edition)
Web Performance Working Group
NotificationNotifications API Standard
Living Standard

Technologies in progress

Games may want to engage their users for a relatively long period of time. The Screen Wake Lock API lets developers signal the needs to keep the screen up in these circumstances, avoiding situations where the screen gets turned off by mistake to save battery.

Whether packaged or not, users rely on a variety of metadata (name, icons) to identify the apps they want to use among their list of regularly used applications. The Web App Manifest specification lets developers group all these metadata into a single JSON file.

The Service Workers specification describes a method that enables applications to take advantage of persistent background processing, opening the door to running applications offline.

Not only does Service Workers enables Web applications to work seamlessly offline or in poor network conditions, it also creates a model for Web applications to operate when they have not been opened in a browser window, or even if the browser itself is not running. That ability opens the door for Web applications that run in the background and can react to remotely triggered events.

The Push API enables Web applications to subscribe to remote notifications that, upon reception, wake them up. Native applications have long enjoyed the benefits of greater user engagement that these notifications bring.

The Web Background Synchronization specification builds on top of Service Workers to enable Web applications to keep their user data up to date seamlessly, by running network operations in the background, adjusting to possibly unreliable connections that users often experience on mobile devices.

Through support for background operations, the Geolocation Sensor specification allows Web applications to be woken up when a device enters a specified geographical area, also known as geofencing.

FeatureSpecification / GroupMaturityCurrent implementations
Select browsers…
Screen wake lockScreen Wake Lock API
Devices and Sensors Working Group
Working Draft
PackingWeb Application Manifest
Web Applications Working Group
Working Draft
Offline Web appsService Workers 1
Service Workers Working Group
Candidate Recommendation
NotificationsPush API
Web Applications Working Group
Working Draft
Background executionWeb Background Synchronization
Web Platform Incubator Community Group
Editor's Draft
GeofencingGeolocation Sensor
Devices and Sensors Working Group
Working Draft

Exploratory work

The Web Packaging document describes use cases for a new package format for web sites and applications and outlines such a format.

Applications, notably those running on mobile devices, can go through different application states, from running to being idle, paused, stopped, discarded, or terminated. Transitions between these states are triggered by the underlying operating system, and hidden from web applications. The Page Lifecycle proposal seeks to expose application state transitions to applications so that these applications can persist/restore state, enable/disable use of network, etc.

FeatureSpecification / GroupImplementation intents
Select browsers…
PackingWeb Packaging
Web Platform Incubator Community Group
State transitionPage Lifecycle
Web Platform Incubator Community Group

Discontinued features

Application caches
The application cache mechanism was introduced in HTML5 to enable access to Web applications offline through the definition of a manifest of files that the browser is expected to keep in its cache. The feature is well deployed but raises security issues and is extremely limited in terms of how much developers can control what gets cached when. The feature was obsoleted in HTML 5.1, and dropped from HTML 5.2, in favor of the Service Workers specification, which defines a much more powerful approach.
Task Scheduling
The Task Scheduler API made it possible to trigger a task at a specified time via the service worker associated with a Web app. This specification was in scope of the now-closed System Applications Working Group and was shelved as a result.
Geofencing API
The Geofencing API made it possible to wake up a Web app when a device enters a specified geographical area. This work has been discontinued, partly out of struggles to find a good approach to permission needs that such an API triggers to protect users against privacy issues. Through support for background operations, the Geolocation Sensor specification now provides similar functionalities.
Background execution budget
User agents will restrict the ability for Web applications to run operations in the background so that users remain in control of what an application can do at all times. The Web Budget API proposed a mechanism by which applications could determine the cost and budget at their disposal to run operations in the background, allowing them to decide whether to perform or postpone these operations. The proposal was shelved for lack of support.