Google is building Chrome apps support for Android and iOS, beta release coming as soon as January 2014

Google is building Chrome apps support for Android and iOS, beta release coming as soon as January 2014 ...

Google is working on bringing Chrome packaged apps from the desktop to the mobile world. The company is currently building a toolkit to help developers create Chrome apps for Android and iOS, as well as port their existing Chrome apps to both mobile platforms.

The news comes by means of a GitHub repository we stumbled on called Mobile Chrome Apps led by Michal Mocny, a Software Developer at Google. The included documentation sheds a bit more light on what exactly the company is trying to put together: Chrome Packaged App for Windows, OS X, Linux, and Chrome OS are just the beginning.

The toolkit will help developers create Android and iOS hybrid native apps with Chrome app polyfills, through Apache Cordova. The steps include modifying for mobile design, fixing bugs, working around limitations, and of course, testing.

After all the work is done, Google says the apps will be good enough to publish to both Google Play and Apple’s App Store. The requirements suggest Android 4.x will be supported initially, although Cordova could work with Android 2.2 and 2.3 as well. iOS support is still marked as “TBA” but development has already started.

It’s not currently clear why this isn’t hosted on Google Code, but a search on Google Groups confirms the company is indeed working on the project. Furthermore, Google developer advocate Joe Marini says it should be ready for more thorough testing early next year: “We hope to have something in beta form in January.”

For those who don’t know, Chrome packaged apps are written in HTML, JavaScript, and CSS, but launch outside the browser, work offline by default, and access certain APIs not available to Web apps. In other words, they’re Google’s way of pushing the limits of the Web as a platform, which will soon apparently include mobile.

If you’re a developer, you’ll also want to check out these repositories: Mobile Chrome App samples and Cordova plugin to unzip files in Android and iOS.

We’ve heard whispers about such developments before (see links below), but it’s nevertheless interesting to see further proof on GitHub. We have contacted Google for more information about these repos but didn’t hear back. We will update this article if that changes.

Update: Google declined to comment. A source close to the company did say, however, that while developers can try out the tools today, they aren’t ready to be announced officially just yet. We’ll be keeping a close eye on this one.

See also – Chrome Web Store to get multi-platform app support for Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, iOS, and Chrome OS and Google is building a Chrome app-based development environment called Spark

Top Image Credit: Shutterstock

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