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article imageGoogle to phase out Chrome apps on Windows, Mac and Linux

By James Walker     Aug 22, 2016 in Technology
Google has announced it will discontinue support for in-browser Chrome apps on Windows, Mac and Linux PCs in 2018. It launched Chrome apps to allow developers to build rich online experiences, but it admits better solutions are now available.
Chrome apps can be added to the Chrome browser through the Chrome Web Store. Once installed, they run online but offer features that ordinary websites can't provide. Chrome apps can display system notifications, connect directly to hardware components, make the transition to a native app and even be used while offline.
The apps were launched three years ago to give web developers the ability to create richer experiences. On Google's own Chrome OS, they are a vital component of the operating system, the only way of installing an app for offline use. Chrome apps have never taken off as in-browser add-ons for Windows, Mac and Linux, however. Google said that just one percent of users across these platforms actively use full Chrome apps.
Based on this analysis, the company has taken the step to begin removing apps from the Chrome web browser. The process will occur gradually, over the next two years. All Chrome apps will remain supported and usable for the foreseeable future. Over time, they will be phased out from desktop browsers, leaving them present only on Chrome OS.
From late 2016, newly-published Chrome apps will be available only to users of Chrome OS. Existing apps will remain accessible on all platforms until the second half of 2017. Google will then update the Chrome Web Store for Windows, Mac and Linux to exclude apps. Only browser extensions and themes will be visible. Installed apps will remain accessible until early 2018, when they will be removed from Chrome altogether.
Google Chrome app launcher
Google Chrome app launcher
Google explained that it is making the changes to create a stronger web for every platform. In the three years since Chrome apps were launched, the web has moved on significantly. It is now possible to create native-feeling apps using features built-in to browsers. Web apps can display notifications, receive data in the background whilst closed and even install themselves to device home screens, all capabilities that are available out-of-the-box in modern browsers.
"As the capabilities of the web continue to grow, we're excited to see what developers build next," said Google. "Alongside other browser vendors, we remain committed to investment in the web and enabling users and developers to benefit from its openness and reach."
The move is part of Google's ongoing work to simplify Chrome and remove the bloat from the browser. It has previously stripped out other components relating to web apps, including the Chrome notification tray and Chrome app launcher, due to similarly low usage.
While the gradual de-emphasis of Chrome apps may annoy their users, it is positive for the wider web. By pushing developers to build apps using native technologies, users can get greater performance, more integration with their device and the ability to run the app across several different platforms, including smartphones and tablets.
More about Google, Chrome, Google chrome, chrome os, Apps
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