Chrome apps to disappear from Windows, Mac and Linux while Chrome OS gains new launcher icon

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Google has come to the realization that hardly anyone is using Chrome apps. As such, the company plans to phase out support for the apps on Windows, Mac and Linux over the next couple of years.

While admitting that packaged apps are used by just 1 percent of users of the three platforms, Google says that the decision comes after a drive to integrate the feature of apps into web standards. Chrome apps will live on in Chrome OS "for the foreseeable future", but a wind-down timetable has been set out for everyone else.

Nothing is changing immediately. But come late 2016, only Chrome OS users will be able to access newly published apps. There are no plans to hide existing apps from users, and updates will still be available for them. The ball really starts to get rolling in the second half of 2017 when Windows, Mac and Linux users will lose access to the apps in the Chrome Web Store.

It seems as though it will still be possible to sideload apps at this stage as Google goes on to say that "in early 2018, users on these platforms will no longer be able to load Chrome apps".

In a blog post announcing that the plug is due to be pulled on Chrome apps for most platforms, Google says:

We believe it’s time to begin the evolution away from the Chrome apps platform. There are two types of Chrome apps: packaged apps and hosted apps. Today, approximately 1% of users on Windows, Mac and Linux actively use Chrome packaged apps, and most hosted apps are already implemented as regular web apps. We will be removing support for packaged and hosted apps from Chrome on Windows, Mac, and Linux over the next two years.

Apps will continue to be supported on Chrome OS for now, but the message to Windows, Linux and Mac users is clear: it's time to move on:

On Windows, Mac, and Linux, we encourage developers to migrate their Chrome apps to the web. Developers who can’t fully move their apps to the web can help us prioritize new APIs to fill the gaps left by Chrome apps. In the short term, they can also consider using a Chrome extension or platforms such as Electron or NW.js.

For anyone using Chrome OS, there is a more immediate change -- but one that has less of an impact on users. As noted by OMG Chrome, there's a new Cortana-inspired icon to enjoy.

Photo credit: 360b / Shutterstock

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