Google will remove support for Chrome apps on Windows, Mac and Linux over the next two years, the company has said. However, the apps will receive support and maintenance on the Chrome operating system, along with additional enhancements to the apps.
Available in two types – packaged and hosted apps – there are about 1% users on the above-mentioned platforms who use Chrome packaged apps, while most of the hosted apps from Chrome are already implemented as web apps. Google, however, encourages developers to continue building apps for the Chrome OS.
Google said the new Chrome apps will be only available for Chrome OS users starting late 2016. But users can have access to the existing apps on all platforms, with continuous updates from the developers. During the second half of 2017, Chrome apps on Windows, Mac and Linux will not be available in the Chrome Web Store, although the Store will have extensions and themes. And finally in early 2018, users will not be able to load Chrome apps.
Google wants developers to migrate their Chrome apps to the web. The message was heralded by Rahul Roy-Chowdhury, vice president of product management at Chrome, who in the official Chromium blog notes: "As we continue our efforts to simplify Chrome, we believe it's time to begin the evolution away from the Chrome apps platform."
Google announced the launch of Chrome apps three years ago. The Chrome app launcher, similar to the launcher on Chromebooks, was first made available for Windows and later on it extended support for Mac OS X and Linux.
In March this year, Marc Pawliger, engineering director of Chrome at Google, first revealed plans about retiring the Chrome app launcher as users on Windows, Mac and Linux prefer to launch their apps within Chrome.
"With Chrome's continued emphasis on simplicity and streamlining browser features, the launcher will be removed from those platforms. It will remain unchanged on Chrome OS," said Pawliger. Before removing the launcher, users will receive notifications.