Chrome apps are dying.
Google today announced that it’s planning to phase out support for its browser-based Chrome apps for every single OS except – of course – Chrome OS proper. That means no Chrome apps will be available to download on Windows, Mac or Linux starting the second half of 2017, and in early 2018, existing apps won’t load at all on those platforms.
Google introduced those apps in 2013 as a way to offer new functions that weren’t otherwise available on the web. Chrome browser apps also gave developers a way to write one app that would run across Windows, Mac, Linux and Chrome OS.
The apps come in two flavors: Hosted Apps, which are essentially installable web apps, and Packaged Apps, which are closer to a traditional app like those you might find in the iOS App Store or Google Play Store.
The phase-out gives developers about a year and a half to figure out how to migrate their applications away from the Chrome browser. For Hosted apps, that’s not too big a deal, since their functions reside mostly on the web. Users will be able to keep using the web app after the transition, but completely through the web.
The Chrome apps platform was an interesting experiment, but it has apparently failed. In a blog post today, Google said that “approximately 1 percent” of all Chrome users on Windows, Mac, and Linux were using Chrome apps. Arguing that Web standards have continued to evolve and become more capable and that the company is simplifying Chrome, Google says that support for Chrome apps on non-Chrome OS platforms will be phased out over the next two years. Extensions and themes will remain available on all platforms.
Later this year, any new Chrome apps that are published will only be available to Chrome OS users, though existing apps can continue to be updated. “In the second half of 2017,” Windows, Mac, and Linux users won’t be able to see Chrome apps in the Chrome Web Store. And “in early 2018,” non-Chrome OS platforms will lose the ability to load Chrome apps altogether.
Phasing out Chrome apps across the top desktop OSes may cause developers to lose interest in developing them for Chrome OS, too. But a few months ago, Google announced that Chrome OS computers will also be able to run Android apps, so those may help to take up the slack.
As a long time Google Keep user for cross platform syncing of my notes, this is a little disappointing to me. Sure, there’s the Google keep website but an app I could launch from the desktop in a bit more convenient. Were you among the 1% who actually used chrome apps? or is it a good riddance to you?