From a post on Google’s Chromium Blog today, it appears that over the next couple of years Chrome Apps will be phased out for Windows, Mac OS, and Linux users. This move comes at a time when web technologies have moved to a point that the ‘need’ for Chrome Apps is no longer very strong. According to Google:
We have always believed in making the open, interoperable web as strong as possible. For a while there were certain experiences the web couldn’t provide, such as working offline, sending notifications, and connecting to hardware. We launched Chrome apps three years ago to bridge this gap.
Since then, we’ve worked with the web standards community to enable an increasing number of these use cases on the web. Developers can use powerful new APIs such as service worker and web push to build robust Progressive Web Apps that work across multiple browsers. More capabilities will continue to become available on the web.
As we continue our efforts to simplify Chrome, we believe it’s time to begin the evolution away from the Chrome apps platform. There are two types of Chrome apps: packaged apps and hosted apps. Today, approximately 1% of users on Windows, Mac and Linux actively use Chrome packaged apps, and most hosted apps are already implemented as regular web apps. We will be removing support for packaged and hosted apps from Chrome on Windows, Mac, and Linux over the next two years.
You can read the rest of the post here and see the details of the timing of this latest move by Google. And while this decision may worry or annoy users, it is overall a good thing.
Web technologies need to stay open and cross-platform. If Google is in fact dedicated to the open web, we don’t need web apps that only work in Chrome. We need web apps that can run on any browser. And this is coming from a Chrome OS guy!
But it is true, nonetheless. The APIs and standards available today give developers the tools they need to build great experiences in cross-platform, cross-browser formats. Manipulating the web by throwing your weight around with proprietary APIs that only work on a single browser does little to help the progress of the open web platform.
So well done, Google.
Being a Chrome OS user full-time, this will have little effect on me. It will be interesting to see how little things like Hangouts, Google Keep, etc. will be handled on Windows moving forward. Though all these ‘apps’ can be used in a browser tab, I always liked using them as stand-alone windows when forced to use a Windows device. Will this still be possible? What will the impact be, if any, of this move?
Only time will tell.
How about it Windows, Mac OS and Linux users? This is one of those bits of news that I’m not sure how to react to yet. We’d love your thoughts in the comments!