Chrome apps haven’t appeared to be all that popular and that is something even Google admits, according to The Verge. Chrome apps are used by less than 1% users on Windows, macOS and Linux.
Alphabet’s Google has announced plans get rid of Chrome apps on their browser. Meanwhile, they will still be present on their Chrome OS system. Starting later this year, all Chrome apps will not be allowed to get released on platforms other than Chrome OS but existing apps will keep getting updates until 2018, at which point Google will most likely get rid of the runtime that powers Chrome apps for all other platforms. The apps will stop begin displayed in the Chrome Web Store around the end of Q2 or the beginning of Q3 in 2017. Extensions and themes will still work like before, but not only that, they will get much more focus, more features and get improved in many different ways.
The company announced that the usage of the apps outside of their own operating system was very low, using this quote:
“There are two types of Chrome apps: packaged apps and hosted apps. 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.”
Their justification is that the web is filling the gaps that once only native programs could utilize:
“For a while there were certain experiences the web couldn’t provide, such as working offline, sending notifications, and connecting to hardware.”
According to Google, regular programs can now be replaced by the web. Google want’s you to fully move to the web where all of their services are the company believes a Chromebook is a perfect device for exactly that workflow: surfing the web.
“Developers who can’t fully move their apps to the web can help us prioritize new APIs to help fill the gaps left by Chrome apps.”
Interestingly enough, while Google seems to be publicly be pushing a transition to more cloud based workflows, the company is also hedging its bets by bringing Android apps to Chromebooks. Google’s web versus native app implementation seems like a rather confused message now compared to its original Chromebook ambitions. Let’s all hope that Google Chrome now turns into the old and good lightweight web browser it once was.