Last fall, Google announced its plan to bring native apps to its Chrome platform via a technology called Chrome Apps. But this week, the firm announced an arguably bigger step forward, with the introduction of Chrome Apps for Android and iOS.
I wrote about Google's Chrome Apps in Chrome is Going Native last September. At the time, Google described Chrome Apps as a combination of "the speed, security and flexibility of the modern web with the powerful functionality previously only available with software installed on your devices." But it was relegated to PC-based platforms like Windows and Chrome OS, with support for Mac OS X and Linux promised for a future date.
Chrome Apps aren't just web apps that run in a container that doesn't offer the full Chrome user experience. They work offline, provide notifications, work with the device's underlying hardware, provide security sandboxing and other modern, native app-like capabilities. They also integrate with the underlying OS in interesting ways. On Windows, for example, you can access Chrome Apps from a taskbar-based launcher.
Now, Google is bringing Chrome Apps to the most popular mobile platforms on earth, Android and Apple's iOS. And as is the case on PC-based platforms, these new mobile Chrome Apps also integrate with the underlying OS in some very interesting ways. For example, they can be submitted to Google's Play Store or Apple's App Store just like any other native apps.
It's not quite ready—this capability is provided to developers via a preview release at the moment, offering the ability to test mobile Chrome Apps on actual devices or in emulators. Here's an example of a Chrome App running in both the desktop version of Chrome and in an emulated Android device:
Given the speed at which Google has moved here, I suspect the first general release isn't far behind. This platform is rapidly getting more interesting all the time.