One year ago, almost to the day, the Chromium project announced the phasing out of Apps from the Chrome Web Store for Windows, MacOS and Linux users. Citing the push for truly web-based apps, it now appears that Chromebooks will shift away from “Chrome Apps” as well.
If you have an Android-enabled Chromebook, you may have downloaded apps like Google Play Music, or Play Movies and noticed a slight difference between the Chrome App icon and the Android version.
Here’s an example:
The icon on the left is obviously the YouTube app from the Chrome Web Store and the one on the right from Google Play. With Android enabled on your Chrome device, it is nice to have an indicator as to which is which so you can choose the app of your liking.
However, a recent commit from the Chromium repositories points at the retirement of default Chrome Web apps that have an Android counterpart.
Remove Webstore and default Chrome apps replaced by default ARC ones.
It is unclear from the commit as to whether these apps will go away entirely, but from the context, it is clear they will no longer be the go-to if you have a newer model Chromebook with the Play Store enabled.
On newer ARC-enabled devices, Webstore search is no longer enabled. This CL also removes it from the launcher, as well as the Chrome versions of the default apps that were replaced by their corresponding ARC apps.
Presumably, if you choose not to enable the Play Store, the default Chrome Apps like Play Music, Play Books and others from Google will still be installed. Whatever the game plan here is, it is evident that the focus is now becoming Android Apps as the default user experience for anything that is not natively web-based.
If you go to the Chrome Web Store now, you can search for Google Apps by name and they will appear in your search results as expected. Alternatively, search for an app like Play Movies by simply filtering by Apps from Google, you will not see it or many others in the list.
None of this really comes as a surprise as developers have been very adamant that progressive web apps would one day replace packaged applications.
We will stay on top of this as it develops. With the current state of Android on Chrome OS, I wouldn’t anticipate the Web Store disappearing anytime soon. Eventually, however, it will be a thing of the past.
Source: Chromium Repository