Bulletproof PWA and TWA Detection

Detecting an Installed PWA

The simplest way to tell between a standard browser session and an installed PWA session is by checking display-mode. Assuming your PWA runs in "standalone" mode (defined in your web app manifest file, learn more about display modes here), you can simply check the display-mode property.

* Is the page currently in standalone display mode (used by PWA)?
* @return {boolean}

function isInStandaloneMode() {
return Boolean(
(window.matchMedia && window.matchMedia('(display-mode: standalone)').matches)
|| window.navigator.standalone, // Fallback for iOS

There is one gotcha: users can change the display mode of your PWA by making it fullscreen. In this case, your best bet is to detect standalone mode initially, store a flag in SessionStorage, and then check that flag for every page view in your session.

// Run this code as soon as possible (before user has a chance to change display mode)
let hasBeenInStandaloneMode;
if (isInStandaloneMode()) {
hasBeenInStandaloneMode = true;
sessionStorage.setItem('is_standalone_mode', 'yes');
} else {
hasBeenInStandaloneMode = sessionStorage.getItem('is_standalone_mode') === 'yes';

* Is this an installed PWA?
* @return {boolean}

export function isInstalledPwaSession() {
return hasBeenInStandaloneMode;

Note: It's important to use SessionStorage instead of LocalStorage b/c LocalStorage is shared with the browser, and you don't want to mark tabs in the browser as part of a PWA session just because at some point in the past a user opened your PWA.

Detecting a TWA (Trusted Web Activity)

Packaging your PWA as a TWA is required for listing it in the Play Store. Essentially, you generate tiny Android app that references your PWA start URL, key asset URLs, and a version number.

Most of this data should already be in your web app manifest, so the process is relatively painless using a tool like the Bubblewrap CLI.

When a TWA is opened on Android, the TWA app ID is exposed to the start URL page via the referrer. We can use a similar technique to detect the Android TWA as we did the PWA above:

// Read more about this solution here: https://stackoverflow.com/a/54580415/1546808
let isAndroidTwaSession;
if (document.referrer.includes('android-app://<your.twa.package.name>')) {
isAndroidTwaSession = true;
sessionStorage.setItem('has_android_twa_referrer', 'yes');
} else {
isAndroidTwaSession = sessionStorage.getItem('has_android_twa_referrer') === 'yes';

Unfortunately, this doesn't work on ChromeOS (document.referrer is empty). Hopefully it does at some point in the future, but for the time being, if you're releasing a TWA on Chromebook, you'll need to customize the start URL in the twa-manifest.json file created by Bubblewrap. In my case, I kept using the same start URL as the PWA, but added a #play-store-twa hash:

// manifest.json (for PWA)
"startUrl": "/pwa-start-url/"

// twa-manifest.json (just for TWA, used by Bubblewrap CLI)
"startUrl": "/pwa-start-url/#play-store-twa"

Then check for this hash as soon as possible on the start URL page:

// Check for #play-store-twa hash in start URL to identify TWA
let hasPlayStoreTwaHash;
if (window.location.pathname === '/pwa-start-url/' && window.location.hash === '#play-store-twa') {
hasPlayStoreTwaHash = true;
sessionStorage.setItem('is_play_store_twa', 'yes');
} else {
hasPlayStoreTwaHash = sessionStorage.getItem('is_play_store_twa') === 'yes';

export function isTwaSession() {
return hasPlayStoreTwaHash && isInstalledPwaSession();

Comments are welcome!