Basically, Web app manifests are part of a group of web applications known as progressive web apps (PWA). PWAs are websites that are designed to be installed on a mobile device’s homescreen without an app store listing. Unlike the generic web apps with simple home screen links or shortcuts, PWAs can be downloaded to the device’s local storage in advance and can work offline. PWAs can also use regular Web APIs to simplify the integration.
The web app manifest provides all the necessary information a device needs about the web application in a JSON text file. This information is needed for the web app to be downloaded and be displayed to the end-user similarly to native apps (e.g., WhatsApp and Online Banking Apps). PWA manifests include App name, author, icon file location, App version, description of the App, and list of all necessary resources.
Should I Use One?
It is not a necessity for all Web Apps. You need to should only use it when you are developing a web app that can run offline like a native Web Apps like WhatsApp web, Todoist web app, and Amazon web app.
Manifest files are supported in Google Chrome, Edge, Firefox, UC Browser, Opera, and the Samsung browser. And it is supported partially by Safari.
The manifest provides the ability to create user experiences that are more comparable to that of a native application. The web app manifest contains metadata provided by the web developer that can be used when a web app is added to a user’s home screen on Android. This includes things like a high-resolution icon, the web app’s name, splash screen colors, and other properties.
Manifest JSON file that provides developers with:
- A centralized place to put metadata about a website, such as fields for the application name, display mode information such as background color and font size, links to icons, and so on.
- A way to declare a default orientation for their web application, and provide the ability to set the display mode for the application (e.g., in full screen).