Google Again Delays Kill Date for Chrome Apps, Which Are Somehow Still Around

A Chrome logo at a Google event in New York in 2013, which is probably also the date you last heard of Chrome apps. (Photo: Mark Lennihan, AP)
A Chrome logo at a Google event in New York in 2013, which is probably also the date you last heard of Chrome apps. (Photo: Mark Lennihan, AP)

Google is giving its little-used Chrome apps functionality — which many users might not even remember exists — a reprieve from its execution date.

Chrome apps, which are distinct from browser extensions, are programs which are installed in Chrome but can be launched standalone from the desktop similarly to any other app. For the most part, their heyday was over half a decade ago (or longer). Per the Verge, one good example of what a Chrome app looks like in practice is Pocket, which allows users to save news articles and other text content for later viewing in a standalone, stripped-down window.

As of earlier this year, Chrome apps on Linux, Mac, and Windows were supposed to stop working in June of this year. But per 9to5Google, Google has apparently been having second thoughts. In a Monday blog post, Google wrote that Chrome apps on those three operating systems won’t shut down until June 2021 based on “feedback from our customers and partners.” Organisations that rely on the apps for some reason may request an extension that will see them through to June 2022, which is also when Chrome apps support on ChromeOS is now scheduled to end.

If all goes according to plan, then, June 2022 is when Chrome apps will finally be dead as a doornail. The Chrome Web Store will “stop accepting new and updated private and unlisted Chrome apps” at that time, according to Google, as well as terminate support for apps and associated APIs on all platforms.

Google first announced plans to end support for Chrome apps all the way back in 2016, citing a lack of widespread adoption (just one per cent of Chrome users on Mac, Linux, and Windows had installed a packaged app) as well as patches that had made Chrome far more capable of activities like “working offline, sending notifications, and connecting to hardware.” The Chrome Web Store removed its category for apps in December 2017 as it began implementing its successor Progressive Web Apps, which allows websites to look more like apps and aren’t limited to running on Chrome.

Chrome extensions, which are wildly popular, won’t be impacted by these changes. Google actually recommends that developers of any active Chrome apps transition to Progressive Web Apps, extension-enhanced web pages, or extensions, as well as notify their users in advance to make the switch.