Google has pulled the plug on the Web Apps section of the Chrome Web Store as it moves to “Progressive Web Apps”.
In the context of the Chrome Browser, web apps were only ever really glorified web links for the most part, and in an attempt to try and add value, it is limiting their use to Chrome OS. Some offered more (so-called ‘packaged apps’) but for the most part, there was very little to recommend a reader use the app over the corresponding website.
Basically, quoth Google, only one percent of Chrome users were actually bothering with them. And in fairness, we were warned, albeit months ago.
Developers are being warned that their apps are now depreciated and will be removed altogether from users machines in the first chunk of 2018.
Let’s be clear – this isn’t Chrome Extensions – those are the bits that actually add something the Chrome that isn’t there otherwise. They’re still exactly where they were.
Google will be looking towards Progressive Web Apps instead. This means that the website has an icon, works offline and basically feels just like a regular desktop app, except it uses the Chrome framework.
This concept is already working on Android – via the Samsung browser, Firefox and Opera. It’s supported in Windows 10 so it’ll be relatively easy for Chrome to join the party. Apple is also said to be working on support for Safari.
There is a definite lack of crossover though. Apps will be gone in Q1 of 2018 and it’ll be Q2 or Q3 before Chrome rolls out PWA desktops. But when it does, it’ll mean that PWAs are supported across Chrome and Android devices, which does make you wonder if that’s the future of the splintered dual operating system.
We’re still not totally sure what Fuchsia OS is going to be for yet, but it could prove to be a combination of that and these PWAs that become the successor to Android and Chrome OS.