Google just made a post on its Chrome blog announcing that the company will be phasing out Chrome apps for the Chrome browser on Windows, Mac and Linux with the exception on Chrome OS. The company introduces Chrome apps three years ago to bridge the gap on certain functionalities that the web or more specifically the browser couldn’t provide such as working offline, sending notifications and connecting to hardware. In no time, many developers had successfully created various Chrome apps that offers functionality similarly to the standalone apps and made it even possible for these apps to run across other platform with Chrome browser installed.
In case you are not familiar, Chrome apps are basically web applications categorized as packaged and hosted programs that runs on Chrome OS or Chrome web browser which features functionalities very similar to a native desktop app. These web apps are capable of working offline and can interact with hardware devices such as accessing hard disk storage. Chrome apps can be downloaded from the Chrome Web Store found in the Chrome OS or Chrome browser.
This decision comes with Google’s continuous efforts to simplify the Chrome browser and with the very low number of Chrome apps active users. Apparently, most of the Chrome apps also have already been implemented as regular web apps. Many developers also favors Progressive Web Apps which offers similar capabilities and already work across platforms including mobile. Google had already removed the app launcher on Windows, Mac and Linux early this year.
“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.” – Rahul Roy-Chowdhury, VP Product Management
The company’s move on discontinuing support for the Chrome apps suggests that the newly-published apps will become exclusively available to Chrome OS by the end of 2016, though updates for the existing apps will still remain. Google plans to gradually remove the support for apps over the next two years, giving developers plenty of time to build their web apps independently from Chrome and for the users to better find an alternative. In the second half of 2017, the Chrome Web Store will no longer be offering Chrome apps on Windows, Mac and Linux but will continue to publish browser extensions and themes. Finally, the Chrome apps will no longer be able to load on these platforms in the arrival of the year 2018.