Google has just announced plans to gradually phase out support for Chrome apps on every platform except for Chrome OS. Starting later this year, new Chrome apps will be available only to Chrome OS users and won’t be accessible on Windows, Mac, and Linux. (Existing apps will remain available and can still be updated.) Then, sometime in the second half of 2017, the Chrome Web Store will no longer display Chrome apps at all on those operating systems. And come early 2018, you’ll no longer be able to load Chrome apps on Windows, Mac, or Linux at all. Extensions and themes are not at all affected by this change; in fact, they’ll soon be given a much larger focus in the Chrome Web Store.
That might sound like a big deal, but Google says that a very tiny percentage of people are actively using Chrome apps. “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.”
The company’s justification for this step is that with the advancements of the open web, there’s no longer any real place or need for Chrome apps. “For a while there were certain experiences the web couldnâ€™t provide, such as working offline, sending notifications, and connecting to hardware.” According to Google, most of those functionality holes have been patched, and more improvements are coming. So the message is clear: move your stuff to the web. “Developers who canâ€™t fully move their apps to the web can help us prioritize new APIs to help fill the gaps left by Chrome apps.” The tone is a little different when it comes to Chrome OS, where Google believes they play a “critical role.”