Chrome apps have been on the chopping block for four years now. While the majority of the tech world has moved on to embrace Progressive Web Apps and other solutions, it appears that the “apps” in the Chrome Web Store will spend a little more time on death row before meeting their final demise. Google’s original timeline for shuttering the app section of the Chrome Web Store was as follows:
- March 2020: Chrome Web Store will stop accepting new Chrome Apps. Developers will be able to update existing Chrome Apps through June 2022.
- June 2020: End support for Chrome Apps on Windows, Mac, and Linux. Customers who have Chrome Enterprise and Chrome Education Upgrade will have access to a policy to extend support through December 2020.
- December 2020: End support for Chrome Apps on Windows, Mac, and Linux.
- June 2021: End support for NaCl, PNaCl, and PPAPI APIs.
- June 2021: End support for Chrome Apps on Chrome OS. Customers who have Chrome Enterprise and Chrome Education Upgrade will have access to a policy to extend support through June 2022.
- June 2022: End support for Chrome Apps on Chrome OS for all customers.
Chrome apps were removed from the Web store for Windows, macOS and Linux users nearly three years ago but the applications live on for Chrome OS users. Today, Google has announced that developers will have a little more time to migrate to a different app solution. To be completely clear, this update will have absolutely no effect on the general consumer. As a matter of fact, I had to read the announcement twice to even see what was different from the original roadmap. Here’s a look at the updated timeline. Give it a quick glance and then we’ll discuss what has changed and why it matter.
- March 2020 – Chrome Web Store stopped accepting new public Chrome apps. Developers will be able to update existing Chrome apps through June 2022. Enterprise administrators may continue to submit new private and unlisted Chrome apps to the Chrome Web Store.
- June 2021 – General support for Chrome Apps on Windows, Mac, and Linux will end June 2021. Organizations will be able to use a policy setting to extend support on Windows, Mac, and Linux through June 2022. General support for Chrome Apps on Chrome OS will remain enabled, without requiring any policy setting, through June 2022
- June 2022 – Chrome Web Store will stop accepting new and updated private and unlisted Chrome apps. End support for Chrome Apps, NaCl, and PPAPI for all platforms.
The changes are subtle. However, if you read the bold print you will see exactly why these concessions are being made. Yes, I do have a handful of Chrome apps on my Chromebook and I even use some of them, albeit infrequently. Still, I wouldn’t miss them much if they weren’t there for me to use. Google has, for quite some time, encouraged developers to migrate their Chrome apps to the more portable and versatile PWA or other web-focuses solutions. Any Chrome app that’s worth its salt has likely already made the move because honestly, many Chrome apps are little more than web wrappers anyway. The small number of exceptions would be apps that are built specifically for enterprise solutions and that is who this timeline extension is aimed at it seems.
We’ve often preached that the Web Store needed to go away or at least undergo a massive overhaul but I failed to consider that a massive number of business probably use apps such as Citrix Workspace and developing replacements for applications like that takes time. Simply ripping them out of the Chrome Web Store could prove catastrophic for companies especially during this time when remote work has become the new normal. Google remains committed to the Extensions section of the Chrome Web Store as they become to become an integral part of the web in general. If you are a general user and you are using Chrome apps on the regular, it’s probably time to start researching suitable replacements. You still have until 2022 but it would be easier to go ahead and embrace this change instead of ripping off the band-aid when the day arrives. You can read the full announcement and learn more about migrating Chrome Apps here.