As we’re starting to lean into shorter videos here on Chrome Unboxed, we’ve started using apps like Instagram, YouTube, and TikTok on Chromebooks a bit more often than before. With TikTok in particular, there was something today that I wanted to check out with the web version of the app. It’s been a while since I’ve used TikTok on the web, so I took some time to look around and I was blown away by the quality of this interface.
First of all, TikTok on ChromeOS is a PWA installed through the Play Store or directly from the URL. It’s been like that for a while, so it’s not really the news here. Instead, what I noticed while navigating the UI was the polish and attention to detail that TikTok provided in the web interface for their previously mobile app-only experience.
Some of these features might have been around for a while, but I’m going to talk about them anyway. To be clear, I’m not saying that all of this UX is brand new; I’m just saying that the cohesiveness of what TikTok has built for the web is a great blueprint for others to follow. (yeah, I’m watching you Instagram).
First, TikTok has a proper desktop interface designed for larger screens. The UI doesn’t try to look like the phone app or regurgitate the design which was meant to scroll vertically on a narrow screen. Instead, the PWA takes advantage of the extra space, with popular topics in a sidebar along with suggested accounts and accounts of those you follow. The right side is the main attraction, with your standard “For You” feed displayed prominently for your TikTok viewing pleasure.
Clicking on the video itself or the comments will take you to a larger player with the comments displayed on the right side of the screen. From this view, you can also comment, like, follow, and go to the next video in your feed. It’s a more immersive way to consume TikTok content for sure.
To simplify navigation in either version of the feed view, built-in keyboard shortcuts allow you to navigate up and down your feed (up and down arrows), like videos (key L) and activate/deactivate your videos (M button). These are simple additions to the experience, but they make getting around the app a little smoother for those using a desktop interface, and I love that.
Post creation tools
Another part of the equation that TikTok on the web gets is post-creation flow. While not as comprehensive as the Android or iOS app, this tool will allow for quick downloads of multiple file types and allow them to be posted to your TikTok profile quickly. While there are workarounds for posting videos to services like Instagram, TikTok feels purpose built for this on the web, and I hope more mobile app features will appear in this part of the interface on the road. With the PWA, you can upload, caption, control comments, perform copyright checks, and select things like your post’s visibility and cover photo. Again, not a complete TikTok app replacement, but a solid way to post simpler videos for sure.
Messaging and sharing tools
Finally, TikTok has built-in messaging and sharing tools that feel right at home here too. Hover over the share icon next to any video and you’ll have the option to share to Facebook, Twitter, or WhatsApp, along with an option to direct message, embed, or link.
This direct message option connects directly to the messages part of the interface, allowing you to send videos to friends on TikTok in a stream while simultaneously chatting with text. It works the same way it does in the app, but it’s nice to see TikTok making the interface work as it should instead of adding this sharing method sometime down the road.
Along with the dedicated Android TV app, TikTok does a great job of being fun to use on multiple screens at this point. What was once a simple video sharing app has truly become a force in the short video space, and as more creators flock to the platform, these multiple ways to interact will only strengthen TikTok’s place in the wider social media landscape. . While it’s simple for TikTok to ignore the web at this point, it’s great to see examples like this of great apps being leveraged in ways that make them infinitely more accessible.