For a while now, evidence has been pointing towards Google’s work to bring Chrome apps to our smartphones. And no, we’re not talking about generic web apps on your Chrome mobile browser, but the sort of Chrome apps previously only available to desktop users. Last fall, Google started setting the framework for giving these apps a whole lot more flexibility, including offline operation and getting increased access to system resources. Rumors had suggested at least a beta version of smartphone support could come as soon as this month, today that’s confirmed, as Google announces a developer preview of the toolchain needed to achieve just that.
Basically, the system wraps the Chrome app in a smartphone app packaging, so that it can be distributed just like a native Android app in the Play Store or native iOS app in Apple’s App Store. Even though is just a preview release, the wrapper supports a number of important Chrome APIs – and that’s on top of those APIs already offered by Apache Cordova, on which Google’s implementation today is based.
We’ll be curious to see how mobile devs react to this new tool; will we just see ports of existing desktop Chrome apps, or might some coders feel inspired to create something original with a mobile focus in mind from the beginning? Google says that it hopes to keep on improving things as it gets feedback, so this could well prove be the start of an interesting new chapter in the development of mobile software.