Chrome Apps come to iOS, Android

Google has just reduced the gap between Chrome OS and Android by announcing a feature that will allow developers to repackage Chrome Apps into mobile apps that will run natively on iOS and Android. This will be achieved using Apache Cordova, an open-source mobile development framework for building native mobile apps using HTML, CSS and JavaScript.

Unlike standard Web apps, a completely packaged Chrome App will come preloaded with all necessary files needed for it to function ‘offline’ in the absence of network connectivity. Hence, these apps can be easily ported to different platforms using the necessary tools. For simplicity, Google has released their own ‘toolchain’ which can be installed via command prompt. This toolchain utility will make use of the Apache Cordova to create hybrid web apps for Chrome and iOS.

However, there’s a downside to doing things the easy way. For this instant, do note that such apps developed in this manner may have glitches and not function as expected or as well as native apps. Such Chrome apps will also not be able to take full advantage of the full hardware and software capabilities on iOS and Android devices.

In a blog post, Google engineer Andrew Grieve wrote: “For web developers, this toolchain provides a simple workflow for extending the reach of Chrome Apps to users on mobile platforms.” Despite that, the tool is not meant to be used to port complex apps such as 3D games for cross-platform availability.

I feel that this type of access to such utility will lead to a surge of substandard apps in the market as freemium apps preliferate; developers may start to package web apps for the purpose of bringing in more users. Because they are not native however, these developed apps could be buggy or even crashes upon launch on certain devices. When that happens, the Google Play Store or iOS App Store would have been so crowded with such bad apps and we will all have trouble finding genuine good apps that are properly coded using the respective development environments.