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Chrome Packaged Apps Coming to Android, iOS

Packaged apps (no shortcut icon) alongside legacy and hosted apps in OS X.

Chrome Packaged Apps Already Run  On The Desktop

Chrome Packaged Apps could be up and running on Android and iOS as early as January 2014, according to newly discovered developer documentation from Google.

Google has been pushing adoption of its powerful ‘near-native’ packaged app technology on Chrome for Windows, Mac and Chrome OS  for most of this year. The Chrome Web Store was overhauled to highlight these new apps, with the older hosted web-apps rebadged as ‘shortcuts’.

Now, in documentation discovered by TNW, Google are prepping a toolkit to help developers bring their Packaged Apps to Chrome for Android and iOS.

This toolkit will, according to the info listed on the GitHub repo for the project, allow devs to ‘[create] Android & iOS hybrid native apps with chrome app polyfills’ that, with a few design tweaks and performance testing, will be ready to “publish on the Android Play Store or iOS App Store.”

At the core a Packaged App is simply a traditional web app but given access to privileged APIs to allow it to perform more like a ‘native’ app, e.g. interact with system hardware, access storage and cloud services, run offline, etc.

Right now Google say that the mobile conversation toolkit isn’t quite ready for officially announcement, though since everything a developer needs to get started is readily available, including App Samples, there is nothing stopping impatient app makers from grabbing a head-start.

We can expect to learn more about the project in January, with Google Developer Joe Marini saying that the company ‘hope to have something in beta form’ by then.

In the meantime check out the TNW report or jump straight over to the Chrome Mobile Apps GitHub page for the full skinny.

  • whataboutbob

    I like how Google is biting at their competitors heels from inside their own walled garden.

  • That’s the evolution of webapps that Steve Jobs wanted in the first iPhone? :) It’s only sad that it’s only Google Chrome with that, I mean, isn’t and open thing like Firefox webapps. Right?

    • guest
    • Yvan Philogène

      Google is moving forward, creating some polyfills to fill the gaps. These specific lines of codes will disappear when the browser integrates natively the equivalent functions built following some standard not yet defined.

      I think it’s a cool principle.

    • niagr

      Just because they call them “open web apps” doesn’t mean it’s any more standardized. The documentation says “not standard” everywhere.

  • Kenny Strawn

    So that’s why KitKat was Android 4.4 and not 5.0… because 5.0 will be a mobile version of Chrome OS around this time next year! Lololololololol, that makes perfect sense at the rate this progress is going. Can totally see October 2014’s headline: “Say Hello to the Nexus Chrome!”

    • Sebastiaan Franken

      Or not. It was 4.4 because that insured the last amount of API breakage, since the MAJOR_VERSION would still be 4. ChromeOS and Android are to remain seperate, as said by Google a few months back. Besides why would they do this? They’d shoot themselves in the foot because Android is hugely popluar ánd it has the Chrome browser already.

      You can just run Chrome (packaged) apps through Chrome for Android and be done with it.

  • Kenny Strawn

    Even more evidence pointing towards a barrage of Chromephones and Chromepads…

  • MaitreyaVyas

    This news is awesome for me as developer I can easily target my app to many platforms at once! ;)