Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Using Apache Cordova, Google expands Chrome apps to mobile

Last September, Google launched Chrome apps, which don't launch in the browser, work offline by default and act like native applications on whatever host operating system is. While the initial launch involved Windows, Mac, and Chrome OS, now Google is bringing them to mobile, it said on Tuesday.

Let's be clear: This isn't the same as going to the Chrome Web Store in your Chrome browser and installing an extension. These are apps that will appear in the App Store and the Google Play store.

In addition, it still leaves a gap that Chrome users on Android have wanted filled for some time: There is no equivalent to the Chrome Web Store for Android's version of the browser, meaning users can't install useful extensions like Lastpass and the like.

Still, the move to mobile, meaning iOS and Android, is welcome. Chrome packaged apps are written in HTML, JavaScript, and CSS, for those unaware. They can also access certain APIs not available to Web apps.

Google made mobile Chrome apps available by providing developers with an early preview of a toolchain based on Apache Cordova, which is an open-source mobile development framework for building native mobile apps.

Things are still nascent, but as this matures, any Chrome desktop app that run on Windows, OS X and Chrome OS will be able to run on a mobile device.

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