Google to start sunsetting Chrome Apps this year

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Google to start sunsetting Chrome Apps this year

Developers told to migrate to the web.

Google will start phasing out apps for Chrome just three years after they were introduced in an effort to simplify the web browser.

Chrome Apps was launched in 2013 as a way to overcome limitations in web browsers, such as the inability to work offline without a network connection, sending notifications, and directly accessing hardware on users' computers.

However the web giant now says Chrome Apps will be deprecated and no longer supported.

Starting late 2016, newly-published Chrome applications will only be made available to Chrome OS user, and not for the Chrome web browser, Google vice-president of product management Rahul Roy-Chowdhury said.

The apps will disappear from view in the Chrome web store in the second half of next year, and by early 2018 Apple MacOS, Microsoft Windows and Linux Chrome users will no longer be able to load the apps.

By then, Google expects developers to have migrated their Chrome Apps to the web or to have replaced them with browser extensions. If developers cannot fully migrate their apps to the web, they can help prioritise new application programming interfaces for the Chrome web browser to fill gaps left by the apps.

In short term, developers can use Chrome browser extensions, or platforms such as Electron or NW.js, Google said.

Chrome Apps appear to have failed to capture users' interest.

Roy-Chowdhury said just one percent of Chrome on Windows, Mac and Linux users are actively using the packaged apps.

This is despite the popularity of the Chrome browser, which some analysts such as Netmarketshare estimate has over half of the global market with hundreds of millions of users and vendors such as Microsoft creating Chrome Apps versions of some of its Office productivity suite components.

Google has not published figures on how many developers, apps and downloads its web store has seen recently. In 2012, the now-chief executive of Google who was then in charge of Chrome, Sundar Pichai, said users had installed over 750 million apps from the web store.

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