One of the first articles I wrote here on Android Police was about how Google planned to remove applications from the Chrome Web Store, believing that Progressive Web Apps would be the future. Fast forward three years, and although I am still hanging around this beautiful site, the Chrome Web Store applications are not long for this world.
Once, the Chrome Web Store offered “packaged” applications (web applications that were running locally, sometimes with elevated permissions), “hosted” applications (web applications that were only links to websites) and regular browser extensions. Google gradually removed all kinds of applications on all platforms, except Chrome OS, in early 2018. In fact, if you visit the Web Store on anything other than a Chromebook, the applications section is invisible.
Google is now planning the second phase of this process, which begins in a few months, when the company no longer accepts new applications in the Web Store. Throughout the year, application support will be removed from all platforms, except Chrome OS, except in organizations that need time to transition to other technologies. In 2022, the final bits of code for application support will be extracted from Chrome and Chrome OS.
- 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.
Perhaps the most interesting part of the timeline is the end date of the NaCl, PNaCl and PPAPI APIs. Google once positioned NaCl / PNaCl (also known as Google Native Client) as a way to execute executable code by machine in a limited browser environment. While it was used for some high profile applications, such as the original web-based Google Earth, it was never seen as a browser standard, and was eventually replaced by WebAssembly. PPAPI, a Native Client implementation intended to create isolated space browser plug-ins, was only used for the Adobe Flash Player Chrome implementation.
This does not affect Chrome extensions, which will remain compatible; In fact, Google is in the process of establishing an updated format for all extensions (which has received some criticism).