As initially announced over a year ago, Google today shut down the Chrome Apps section of the Chrome Web Store. The store is now only left with Extensions and Themes.
Google offered Chrome apps in two different flavors: Packaged apps and hosted apps. The latter were just bookmarks to web pages while the former acted as native apps that could even work offline, run in the background and had access to various hardware features like the USB port. However, Google decided to shut down Chrome apps as it saw that only around 1 percent of Chrome users were making use of it which made the whole effort of running the store not worth it.
If you are a ChromeOS user though, Chrome apps continue to be available for the OS at least for now. As for all Chrome apps on the web store, Google is now confusingly listing them as extensions.
Google is now encouraging developers to move to Progressive Web Apps which are more responsive and offer enhanced functionality including offline sync and push notifications compared to packaged apps. While not a standard in itself, Progressive Web Apps are supported by all major web browsers including Firefox, Safari and Opera. Chrome, Firefox and Opera for Android already have full support for PWAs. The search giant expects PWA desktop apps to arrive by mid-2018. In comparison, Chrome apps were only supported by the desktop version of the browser.
Chrome apps will continue to work for now but Google will completely remove all such functionality from the browser in Q1 2018 so their existence is short lived.
[Via Ars Technica]