About a year ago, Google announced that they would be eliminating Chrome apps on the desktop versions of the Chrome browser. That process has begun today as Chrome apps are no longer available to download from Windows, MacOS or Linux versions of the browser.
You can see in the splash screen above that Apps has been removed.
The move is based more-or-less on the fact that nobody uses Chrome apps. Google’s own numbers suggest 1% of Chrome users use the apps. I, as a Chrome user on my Mac and on my Chromebook, can attest to this. I don’t have a single app installed, especially now on my Chromebook as I’ve been using more Android apps.
Developers have been notified of this change and while their apps will work through the first quarter of 2018, after that, the code will be removed from Chrome all together.
The replacement? Progressive Web Apps, or PWAs
Google is in the process of making Chrome work with PWAs on the desktop, something that it already has in Chrome for Android. They expect this to be done by Mid-2018 and gives website a much more app-like experience. More importantly, PWAs are not specific to Chrome so they would work, in theory, with any browser. The rub with that however is that PWAs are not a standard so it could well be that other browsers don’t pick up the ability to run PWAs.
It should be noted that today’s deprecation of Chrome apps only impacts Chrome for desktop users – Windows, MacOS and Linux. ChromeOS users can still get the apps from the Web Store.