Chrome Packaged Apps Ramps Up with iTunes and Bluetooth Capabilities

In a move signaling it is getting its desktop Platform ready for primetime, Google added six new and improved APIs to its Chrome packaged apps, including iTunes and Bluetooth capabilities. The features were announced in a Chrome dev update on Monday.

If you are not familiar with packaged apps, they are modified web apps that run on any computer that has the Chrome browser installed. Packaged apps come bundled up, so they download from the Chrome Web Store with all of their contents (HTML5, CSS and JavaScript) intact. This ensures the apps run whether your computer is online or off. And unlike hosted apps, also available in the Chrome Web Store, packaged apps run outside of the Chrome browser. This means they open in a separate window stripped of the typical "chrome," so browser elements, such as the address bar and tab, are gone.

So what is new in Chrome packaged apps? Consumer app developers will appreciate the Media Gallery API, which gives apps access to music stored locally in the iTunes Library, as long as the user gives consent. And for listening, a Bluetooth API lets your packaged app communicate wirelessly with smartphones and headsets. It also works with health-oriented devices, such as fitness trackers and heart rate sensors.

If you are building an ecommerce app, the In App Payments API, built on the Google Wallet for digital goods platform, will allow your app to securely accept online payments for goods and services. It also supports both one-time and subscription-based billing.

An Identity API will allow you to sign into packaged apps using your Google account or to third-party apps that use OAuth 2.0, such as GitHub and FourSquare. The Identity API also gives packaged apps access to to Google APIs, such as as Google+, Calendar and Drive.

If you are interested in tracking user engagement with your Chrome packaged app, the Analytics API will help you with that. Finally, the Native Messaging API lets packaged apps communicate with native apps.

Google is betting these latest features will entice developers to code for its new platform. Still some weeks away from general availability, Chrome Packaged Apps are available in the Chrome Web Store for users of the Chrome developer channel.

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