Google will gradually phase out support for Chrome apps on Windows, Mac and Linux starting this year, the company mentioned in a blog post. Chrome apps will only be accessible to Chrome OS users starting later this year, and in the second half of 2017, the Chrome Web Store will stop displaying Chrome apps for other OSes. By 2018, Chrome apps will no longer be able load on Windows, Mac or Linux.
Extensions and themes will not be affected by this move, and the Chrome Web Store will continue to exist, albeit without the apps. According to Google, Chrome apps helped bridge the gap where extensions could not provide features like offline working, sending notification and connecting to the hardware. However, these limitations have been worked around and having separate Chrome apps makes no sense anymore.
The exception is the Chromebook, which will continue to support apps for the ‘foreseeable future’. Google will also continue to actively develop the app platform for the Chrome OS, although it’s not clear for how long. Earlier this year, the company had said it would bring the Play Store, and all the apps in it, to the Chrome OS by allowing developers to opt-in to Google Play and Android app compatibility. The feature is expected to be rolled out by September-October this year, and might be the eventual successor to Chrome apps.
Shift away from flash: In May this year, Google said it was planning to place restrictions and eventually block most Flash content in its Chrome browser by the end of this year. Users visiting websites running flash will soon be prompted with an option to enable Flash; if enabled, Chrome will save that site for future visits. In a similar instance, Google said that it would stop accepting ads built on Flash for AdWords by July 2016 and by January 2017, AdWords will stop displaying ads running Flash formats.
Chrome network quality estimator: In June last year, Chrome introduced a ‘Network Quality Estimator’ (NQE), which would analyse the user’s network connection in order to optimise search results and subsequent landing web pages to load faster, giving higher priority to text and information over data-intensive images. The NQE, in effect, changes the rendering of web pages on a slow connection in order to make the web pages usable and fast.