Five years after it shook up the Web with its unexpected debut, Chrome gambles again as it takes the Web offline with its new 'packaged apps.'
What's a Chrome App?
"This is the way to deliver native apps for Chrome OS," said Erik Kay, Chrome's engineering director who's worked on the browser since before it launched.
In many ways, Kay explained, the new apps are a mashup between native code and browser development.
The new apps are available offline, have access to lower-level system resources such as Bluetooth and USB, and can interact with digital cameras and other peripherals, which Web sites can't really do yet. The apps auto-update and leverage Chrome's sandboxing for security, offer syncing and in-app payments like cloud apps and mobile apps, and can display desktop notifications.
But developers are freed from the design constraints imposed by the browser, said Kay.
"[A Chrome App] has full control over its appearance, down to how it interacts with the system," he said. That means that developers aren't dependent on the browser's chrome, its interface, for how the app looks, and can develop apps that look more like mobile apps.