As a Chromebook owner, I've waited a long time for Google to roll out a section in the Chrome Web Store dedicated to packaged apps. It didn't fundamentally bother me that many of the previous "apps" were just glorified bookmarks, I simply chose not to install them and desperately wanted a way to find the apps that were intended to run outside of a browser window. Today, Google has finally answered my prayers (yes, I pray to Google, don't you?), but the addition of the "For Your Desktop" section is just the beginning. The Chrome developers also have plans to port Chrome apps to Android someday.


So what kind of apps populate this new section of the Chrome Web Store? This new type of Chrome app functions more similarly to what we've all grown accustomed to using on our desktops and tablets. For the most part, these are apps that present online content in a more streamlined way, like the Pocket app, or allow an online service to feel more like offline software, like Any.do. Remember the 500px app that Google showed off when it first unveiled the Pixel? That's there too.

Straight from Google, here's what to expect from the new Chrome Apps:

  • Work offline: Keep working or playing, even when you don’t have an internet connection.
  • More app, less Chrome: No tabs, buttons or text boxes mean you can get into the app without being distracted by the rest of the web.
  • Connect to the cloud: Access and save the documents, photos and videos on your hard drive as well as on Google Drive and other web services.
  • Stay up-to-speed: With desktop notifications, you can get reminders, updates and even take action, right from the notification center.
  • Play nice with your connected devices: Interact with your USB, Bluetooth and other devices connected to your desktop, including digital cameras.
  • Keep updated automatically: Apps update silently, so you always get all the latest features and security fixes (unless permissions change).
  • Pick up where you left off: Chrome syncs your apps to any desktop device you sign in to, so you can keep working.
  • Sleep easier: Chrome apps take advantage of Chrome’s built-in security features such as Sandboxing. They also auto-update to make sure you have all the latest security fixes. No extra software (or worrying) required.
  • Launch apps directly from your desktop: To make it quicker and easier to get to your favorite apps, we’re also introducing the Chrome App Launcher for Windows, which will appear when you install your first new Chrome App. It lives in your taskbar and launches your apps into their own windows, outside of Chrome, just like your desktop apps. Have lots of apps? Navigate to your favorite apps using the search box.

As a Chrome OS user, it's easy to grasp why I'm hyped about this, but that doesn't mean this news is irrelevant to Android. Google's long-term plan is to bring this same technology to mobile platforms, as the company wants these apps to be accessible anywhere Chrome is. Right now that means Chrome OS and Windows, but the functionality will come to Macs in six weeks, and then it will come to Android sometime after. Google aligned Chrome releases across all platforms earlier this year, and this is the natural evolution.

Google wants developers to view creating apps for Chrome as the easiest way to create cross-platform software. Regardless of your operating system of choice, it's an exciting time to follow Chrome.

Via: The Verge

Source: Google Chrome Blog

Bertel King, Jr.
Born and raised in the rural South, Bertel knows what it's like to live without 4G LTE - or 3G, for that matter. The only things he likes sweeter than his tea are his gadgets, and while few objects burn more than a metal phone on a summer day, he prefers them that way anyway.

  • Michael Ward

    This is very awesome. Offline VLC or any other native player is now possible for my chromebook. Would love to be able to watch older .wmv files now. Great implementation by Google.

    • wow

      amazing! maybe in 5 years you'll be able to do half the things you can do on a windows/mac machine today!

      • Thomas’

        If you're ignoring that half the Macbooks bought are just $1500 Facebook-machines...

        • Majeed Belle

          You have to toss in the Starbucks coffee too sir.

      • PhoenixPath

        Not that you'd actually care, but...you've managed to utterly miss the point of the product.

        It is not meant to replace *all* of the functionality of Windows/Mac. It's a portable device that can reasonably handle docs, mail, browsing, music, and movies at around $250.

        If you want to play Call of Duty on 3 screens or create 3D cinema masterpieces, you aren't looking at a chromebook.

      • http://bertelking.com/ Bertel King, Jr.

        I can open up my Chromebook and start browsing nearly as fast as I can unlock my smartphone. I'd uninstall nearly every piece of software on my Windows machine if it meant I could get speeds like that.

      • jnt

        The beauty of this is you can turn your desktop / laptop into a desktop/laptop + chromebook combo now, even moreso than before...

  • Thomas’

    Well, the title was more exciting than the text.

    I thought that Android apps will be compatible with Chrome, not the other way around :(

    • ScottColbert

      Yeah, that can definitely be taken that way. Almost made me want a chromebook.

  • NF

    That is exciting. Maybe before long Android will have really good support for web apps. Not just running web sites or bookmarks, but allowing developers to do quality things on the web. However, this is still much like an app in that the APIs are not across every browser (but Chrome is multi-platform) That is probably an attempt to prevent Windows 8 and Mozilla OS from gaining too much ground as Android is much more popular right now.

  • 68Ubuntu

    Chrome OS and Windows now with Mac support in 6 weeks.

    Where does this leave Linux users? Are we always last on the list?

    • http://bertelking.com/ Bertel King, Jr.

      The Google Chrome Blog merely states "Mac & Linux coming soon." The Verge provided the six-week estimate for Mac, but they made no mention of Linux.

      As someone who's used Linux for a few years now (I view Chrome OS as my latest distro hop), I've become accustomed to never being on the list. In the few instances where we are actually last on the list (meaning they remembered to include us at all), it's reason to rejoice.

    • http://jamieellis.co.cc/ Jamie Ellis

      Aside from my Windows 7 setup I have an old PC that has Ubuntu 13.04 with Google Chrome 30 (beta channel) on it. I have Weatherbug and Google Keep Chrome Web Apps (Chrome indicates they are installed) that was installed prior to todays announcement and they just updated.

      Google Keep and Weatherbug if you search for it is within the Ubuntu "installed apps" list and seem to function alright.

      I can not vouch for other linux distributions combinations but it seems to be already live. Tempted to install a couple more from the supported list!

    • Jason Ivany

      The new native Pixlr app ported from Android works on Linux the icon even shows up in my dock and it gives the impression of a native app.

  • cabbiebot

    Someone want to paint a picture of what implementation of Chrome Apps in Android might look like? Hangouts, for example. I have this installed in Chrome on my desktop, but have the native app installed on my phone. Obviously theres redundancy there, but that aside, would both have the same UI? My head hurts.

    • dhruva

      if chrome apps is extended to support android, then i guess chrome will become a super system app like google play services, and native hangouts app on google play will replace with a chrome app. as a user they wouldnt want you to notice any difference. in the end both stores on chromebooks and android will be google play...maybe. as for the ui, look at google keep..thats what they are aiming for.

      • cabbiebot


    • TomsDisqusted

      Native apps would certainly remain dominant - they are miles ahead in resource efficiency.

      I can't imagine that they would bring the current generation of Chrome apps (html/js) to mobile - they would destroy your battery. I really hope they push Dart or NaCl harder and make those mandatory for mobile Chrome apps.

      At IO13 they had a track explaining why even the latest js wasn't good enough for mobile web (as a reason to adopt Dart).

      • cabbiebot

        good stuff, thanks!

  • Stephen

    @BertelKingJr I've read over The Verge column and Google's blog post, and the only mention I see of Android is from The Verge: "They [chrome apps] comprise Google's bid to elevate the browser into a true app platform — one that it thinks could one day be a legitimate rival to Windows, OS X, and someday iOS and even Android."

    Do you have a different source that would suggest they plan to bring these to Android?

  • robopanda333

    why isn't this shown up in the chrome blog yet? it is already live....

    • robopanda333

      oh... it has... it just isn't updated to my rss yet.... derp

  • ConCal

    I wonder what Google's master plan is with Chrome and Android?

  • Matthew Fry

    Chromebook just got more awesome.

  • Matt

    Please tell me this is indicative of extensions finally coming to Chrome on Android!

  • Thomas Cai Jinzhan

    i'm at work now so i can't test on my samsung arm chromebook but does this support the arm chromebooks?

  • http://www.bordersweather.co.uk/ Andy J

    Here is a VERY SHORT example of Chrome Packaged apps running on Android. http://youtu.be/f2tJRXDTMuY?t=13m1s (from I/O2013)

  • drbatie

    Some time ago I developed an Internet appliance that ran Ubuntu with a browser on an old pc. It was really really the precursor to the chromebook on a pc platform. What I am wondering is when will chrome os be ported to a pc. this would open a new era for cloud computing as these "obsolete" platforms could dispense with windows and the associated apps thereby providing an expensive hardware option for underserved communities. Thoughts anyone?

  • Larry Bradley

    Maybe Google could take a few programming minutes to bring Drive to Linux?