If you’ve been using Chrome Apps to get your work done, then you’re going to need to rethink how you do things. Effective immediately, Google has made it a bit more difficult to find Chrome Apps in the Chrome Web Store in what is likely a huge hint from the search giant that you’ll want to start finding alternatives.
The news comes via Ars Technica, which noticed that the Chrome Apps option has been removed from the Chrome Web Store. Now, only Extensions and Themes remain, although Chrome Apps are still available via direct links — you’ll just no longer be able to search and browse for them as in the past.
This move by Google isn’t a surprise. It announced the change more than a year ago, in a blog post that prompted developers to move away from Chrome Apps unless they’re happy developing for Chrome OS only. That platform will continue to support Chrome Apps into the future, along with Android apps. As Google indicated, the impact won’t be felt by too many Chrome users, as only 1 percent of them actively use Chrome-packaged apps, or those that are downloaded to a machine and are fully available offline.
According to Google, the future on PCs other than Chromebooks is Progressive Web Apps (PWAs). As Ars Technica describes them, PWAs combine WC3 standards to create app-like experiences that can work in any browser and on more platforms. Microsoft, Apple, Samsung, Firefox, and Opera, among others, currently support PWAs to one extent or another, and therefore provide more assurance of a consistent experience no matter which device you happen to use.
You’ll want to start migrating your workflow away from Chrome Apps as soon as you can, but never fear — the apps won’t stop working simply because Google has de-emphasized them in its Web Store. However, they’ll no longer be actively supported on any platform other than Chrome OS. Google plans to implement PWA desktop apps sometime in 2018, and there’s no word yet if it means to remove Chrome Apps from Chrome OS and bring its own platform in alignment with the rest of the industry.