Chrome launcher for offline apps comes to Windows

Google's Chrome 'app launcher' for offline browser apps is coming to Windows, with Mac and Linux to follow in due course.

Google has released an early stage "app launcher" for its Chrome browser, which offers a container for browser-based apps that are designed to work offline.

chromebook-app-launcher
The Chrome 'app launcher' for offline apps is coming to Windows. Image: Liam Tung

The feature, currently available only on Google's Chromebooks — made by Samsung, HP, Lenovo and Acer —  is "a dedicated home for your apps which makes them easy to open outside the browser", Google said in a post on its Chromium blog on Wednesday.

On Chromebooks, apps can be "pinned" to the launcher with a right-click for faster access to more frequently used apps. The feature is more of a desktop organisation tool, which, for other desktops and laptops, is designed to support a class of browser app that Google calls "Packaged Apps". These are written in HTML5, JavaScript and CSS but live outside the browser.

While packaged apps like Text Drive can already be used without the launcher, the launcher offers a place to access them outside the browser.

These apps have access to Chrome browser services only available locally and are missing typical browser interface features available via internet, like the address bar and tab strip. One issue Google notes is that users cannot actually search for packaged apps in the Chrome Store at present, however.

Released on Wednesday in the Chrome developer channel for Windows, the launcher will also be available "soon" for Mac and Linux, according to Google.

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