Google is finally killing Chrome apps, which nobody really used anyway

Today, Google shared an updated timeline on when Chrome’s apps will stop working on all platforms. June 2022 is when they will be gone forever, but it depends on the platform you are on (through 9to5Google) Previously, we knew that Chrome applications would one day not work on Windows, macOS and Linux, but today, Google revealed that Chrome applications will eventually stop working on Chrome OS as well.

A Chrome application is a web-based application that you can install in Chrome that looks and works like an application that you would launch from your desktop. Take this for the Pocket post-reading application, for example: when you install it, it opens in a separate window that makes it look like Pocket is working as your own application.

You probably don’t need to worry about the death of Chrome apps that ruin your browsing experience too much. At this point, most applications on the web are just normal web applications, so you can continue using Pocket without problems in the same way by browsing to https://getpocket.com/. In more rare cases, you can also be using Progressive Web Apps, which are basically websites that are cached on your device so they can have some offline functionality and start as an application. It’s possible that some Chrome apps you’ve installed already redirect to websites, like many of Google’s apps. And Chrome extensions are also different from Chrome apps, and they will continue to work fine.

There is a pretty decent chance that you are not using any real Chrome application, even if you use web applications all the time. When Google first announced in 2016 that support for Chrome applications on Windows, macOS and Linux would end, it said that approximately one percent of users on those platforms were actively using packaged Chrome applications. That was almost four years ago, and web developers have advanced.

If you use Chrome applications, they will stop working much earlier in Windows, macOS or Linux than in Chrome OS. Here is the Google timeline:

March 2020: Chrome Web Store will stop accepting new Chrome applications Developers can update existing Chrome applications until June 2022.

June 2020: End support for Chrome applications on Windows, Mac and Linux. Customers who have Chrome Enterprise and Chrome Education Upgrade will have access to a policy to extend support until December 2020.

December 2020: End support for Chrome applications on Windows, Mac and Linux.

June 2021: End of compatibility with the NaCl, PNaCl and PPAPI APIs.

June 2021: End support for Chrome applications on Chrome OS. Customers who have Chrome Enterprise and Chrome Education Upgrade will have access to a policy to extend support until June 2022.

June 2022: End Chrome Apps support on Chrome OS for all customers.

To break down a bit:

  • At some point in June 2020, Chrome applications will stop working on Windows, macOS and Linux, unless you have Chrome Enterprise or Chrome Education Upgrade, which allows you to use Chrome applications for six more months.
  • If you use Chrome OS, Chrome’s apps will work until June 2021. Again, if you have Chrome Enterprise or Chrome Education Upgrade, Google says you can use Chrome’s apps for an additional year.

Originally, Chrome apps were supposed to stop working on Windows, macOS and Linux in early 2018, but in December 2017, when Google removed the Chrome apps section of the Chrome Web Store, it took that early deadline to 2018 at a date not specified in the future. Now, more than three years later, we finally know when Chrome apps won’t work on those platforms, and when they won’t work on any platform.

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