Google Brings Chrome Apps to Android and iOS

Google wants Web developers to submit more applications to the App store. In a move that is targeted toward Web developers writing Chrome Apps, Google has introduced a new mobile toolchain that lets you easily wrap your existing Chrome Apps with a native shell and make them run on iOS and Android platforms.

The toolchain was introduced by Andrew Grieve at the Chromium Blog and is built on top of the popular Apache Cordova Framework. Apache Cordova (formerly PhoneGap) allows developers to write their applications using Web technologies such as HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. In addition, Cordova generates the code to target native mobile OS applications on Android, iOS, Windows Phone, and others. Apache Cordova does give access to various device APIs, and Google has built this toolchain on top of Cordova not only to retain access to that functionality but also to give developers full access to various Chrome APIs such as identity, push messaging, storage, alarms, and more.

With this announcement, Chrome Apps have now moved on to their next logical step. A few months ago, Google introduced Chrome Apps that could work offline and be more native in their features, with a host of Chrome APIs available to developers. With the mobile toolchain, developers can now take those applications and submit them to the Apple and Android stores.

This move by Google raises several interesting issues. Some developers have brought up the angle of Chrome OS versus Android OS and are confused in regard to the long-term strategy of writing applications on these platforms. Another issue is that of the whole Android UX on which developers have spent significant time, along with Google, to make sure that current Android applications adhere to certain guidelines in the UI/UX. Taking a Chrome App and just packaging it for running on Android is not going to make the UX that is now expected from top-of-the-line Android applications.

The tool is currently in developer preview mode, and you can get started with understanding the developer workflow and sample applications.

Be sure to read the next API article: Marvel gives comic book characters their own API