Google Pulls Plug on Chrome Apps for Windows, Linux, Mac

Because many of the capabilities offered by Google apps are now available natively in popular browsers, Google is ending support for Chrome apps on all non-Chrome OS environments.

Google Chrome

Google will end support for Chrome applications on Windows, Linux and Mac platforms over the next two years.

Starting in early 2018, users of packaged and hosted Chrome apps will no longer be able to run them on these platforms. Google will, however, continue to support all types of Chrome apps on Chrome OS for the foreseeable future, a company executive announced Aug. 19.

In a blog post, Google Vice President of Product Management Rahul Roy-Chowdhury said the decision was prompted by the fact that many of the capabilities offered by Google apps are now available natively in popular browsers.

Google launched Chrome apps in February 2013. The apps are based on web technologies such as HTML5, JavaScript and CSS but open outside the browser just like regular, native applications on different platforms. The browser-based apps are designed to give users a way to do things like use web applications and send push notifications even when offline.

Since the launch of Chrome apps, however, developers have increasingly integrated similar capabilities within the browser itself, Roy-Chowdhury said. And with more similar capabilities continuing to become available on the web, the time has come to discontinue Chrome apps on all non-Chrome OS environments, he said.

Starting later this year, any new Chrome apps that are developed will be available only to Chrome OS users. All existing Chrome apps, however, will continue to work across all currently supported platforms. Developers will continue to have an opportunity to update and upgrade them.

Starting in the second half of 2017, Chrome apps for Windows, Linux and Mac environments will no longer be available on Google's Chrome web store. But extensions and updates will still be available to current users of the apps on non-Chrome platforms. Starting in early 2018, however, such users will no longer be able to run apps on their devices.

"All types of Chrome apps will remain supported and maintained on Chrome OS for the foreseeable future," Roy-Chowdhury said. "Additional enhancements to the Chrome apps platform will apply only to Chrome OS devices, including kiosks."

Software developers will continue to be able to build Chrome applications for Chrome OS desktops and other systems. Meanwhile, developers who have built Chrome applications for Windows, Linux and the Mac platform are being encouraged to move their applications to the web. Developers unable to move their applications fully to the web could work with Google in identifying and prioritizing new APIs to make up for Chrome apps that will no longer be available on other platforms, Roy-Chowdhury said. "In the short term, they can also consider using a Chrome extension or platforms such as Electron or NW.js," he said.

Google began the process of phasing out support for Chrome apps in non-Chrome environments earlier this year.

In March, Google said it was getting rid of the Chrome app launcher for users of Chrome apps on Windows, Linux and Mac systems. The launcher enables Chrome apps to be launched outside the browser. Because a majority of users prefer to open the apps from within Chrome itself, having a separate launcher is unnecessary, Google had noted at that time.

Jaikumar Vijayan

Jaikumar Vijayan

Vijayan is an award-winning independent journalist and tech content creation specialist covering data security and privacy, business intelligence, big data and data analytics.