Google is Killing Chrome Web Apps on Windows, Mac and Linux

Google is Killing Chrome Web Apps on Windows, Mac and Linux

Google announced today that it will be removing support for web apps from its Chrome web browser on Windows (and on Mac and Linux as well) over the next two years. These web apps will only be supported on Chrome OS for the foreseeable future, Google says.

“There are two types of Chrome apps: packaged apps and hosted apps,” Google VP Rahul Roy-Chowdhury explains. “Today, approximately 1 percent of users on Windows, Mac and Linux actively use Chrome packaged apps, and most hosted apps are already implemented as regular web apps.”

Google launched Chrome web apps in early 2013, providing native app-like functionality across platforms, using standard web technologies like HTML, JavaScript, and CSS. Available from the Chrome Web Store, these apps run outside the browser, work offline, and offer additional capabilities over web apps that run in the browser.

I’m curious about the real motivation for ending this support. My first thought was that the firm believes that Chrome OS-based devices are now more fully-functional competition for Windows PCs and Macs, thanks to the coming support for Android apps, and that supporting Chrome web apps on other platforms is no longer necessary.

But Google presents this change as part of its ongoing plan to simplify Chrome. It previously killed the Chrome App Launcher that first debuted with Chrome web apps back in early 2013, and the Chrome notification center.

Users who rely on Chrome web apps on Windows (or Mac or Linux) are advised to simply use web apps in the browser, and the firm has provided a migration guide for developers to bring their web apps, as weird as this sounds, to the web.

But you have some time before you need to worry about this change. In late 2016, new Chrome web apps will only be displayed to users onChrome OS devices, and not via Chrome on Windows (or Mac or Linux). Then, in the second half of 2017, the Chrome Web Store will no longer show Chrome apps on Windows, Mac, and Linux, but will continue to offer extensions and themes. Support for Chrome web apps will finally end on Windows (and Mac and Linux) in early 2018, Google says.

I assume this change will have no impact on my favorite Chrome feature: The ability to add any web site to the desktop as a standalone (but not typically offline-capable) web app. (Really, a shortcut, or pinned app of sorts.)


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