When the apps were first introduced in 2013, the idea was to offer new web features and settings that were otherwise not possible through other browsers. The fact that the programs were coded specifically for the Chrome browser meant that the apps became cross-compatible with Windows, Mac, Linux and Google’s own Chrome OS.
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The apps are available in two variants. Either as “Hosted Apps”, i.e. installable web programs, or so-called “Packaged apps”, which can be compared to usual apps found on the App Store and Play Store.
The phase-out period gives Chrome app developers time to convert the apps for other platforms. The previously installable web applications are not affected at all, as these remain fully executable via the respective web versions. For packaged applications, Google has developed a couple of recommendations – conversion to web apps, extensions (additions), additional enhanced web apps or “regular” applications.
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The reason for the decision is obvious; web technology has advanced and several features offered in apps are also accessible directly on web pages. Additionally, the user base for packaged Chrome apps is estimated at one percent of the total user base of Windows, Mac, and Linux users.
The phasing out takes place in stages. Starting this year, all new Chrome apps will be exclusive to Chrome OS users. Existing apps continue to work on all platforms. Starting in the second half of 2017, the Chrome web store will no longer display Chrome apps for Windows, Mac, and Linux users. In early 2018, the programs will cease to function completely.