Chromebooks: Going offline to compete

Chromebooks: Going offline to compete

Summary: Critics of the Chromebook mistakenly believe that once offline, users can’t do anything. This isn’t true and Google is taking steps to make that clear.

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When Google first introduced Chrome OS that powers Chromebook laptops, if you were not able to get online it was pretty much a brick. That changed quickly as Google started making its apps usable offline, and then some major third-party apps followed suit. This was particularly useful on flights, as Chromebook users could continue to work, even before wifi in the sky became commonplace.

Chromebook
(Image: James Kendrick/ZDNet)

Today quite a few apps work offline; there's even a section in the Chrome Web Store that makes them easy to find. This improvement, coupled with the fact that like PCs and Macs users are rarely offline, make Chrome work like most platforms. Google isn't content with this, and recently mandated that legacy packaged apps must go away by the end of the year, and will get kicked out of the store.

Legacy packaged apps don't have to work offline, and that's a problem for Google. There is a continuing confusion about Chrome OS working offline due to the apps that require an active connection to work. Forcing developers to make these apps work offline if they want them in the Chrome Web Store will help eliminate the confusion.

From the Chromium Blog:

Starting today, no new legacy packaged apps can be published in the Chrome Web Store. In December, all existing legacy packaged app listings will be removed from Chrome Web Store’s search and browse functions. Existing legacy packaged apps can be updated until Chrome stops loading them in June of 2015.

Getting legacy packaged apps updated to full Chrome apps has an additional advantage, as it means they willl use the latest APIs. This will ensure Chrome apps have the latest security precautions over the older legacy apps.

Once all standalone apps work offline in Chrome, the playing field will be leveled with OS X and Windows. Chromebook owners will go to the app store, get an app, and install it. There will be no concern as to whether it will work offline since all apps in the store will work while disconnected.

This isn't a huge change since many apps already work offline. It is a big change in perception to the many critics of the Chromebook who thought that Chrome OS couldn't do anything offline. Soon they will have to admit that Chromebooks are just as useful offline as Macs and PCs. When was the last time a Mac or PC was offline, anyway?

It will be interesting to see how many Chrome developers choose to make the effort to update legacy apps. The risk to Google is that a number of them might decide to abandon the platform rather than expend the time and resources to bring apps within spec.

Additional Chromebook coverage: 

Topics: SMBs, Google, Laptops, Mobility

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34 comments
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  • That's not the problem

    That's not the problem. 1 - there's no applications 2- Google designs everything they make to spy on you.
    Buster Friendly
    • [yawn]

      Not on you, Buster - trust me, they have better things to do ;-)
      Heenan73
      • Checking

        Checking...nope, a personal attack didn't change a single thing about Google or Chromebooks. Sorry, you'll have to try again using the funny concept called "topic".
        Buster Friendly
        • ?

          Did you miss the wink on the smiley face at the end?
          babyboomer57
        • Owl:NET and few others ASSume to know best for everyone else?

          Listen, buy what YOU want to buy, but do not ASSume you have any weight over what other people choose to buy.

          If someone else wants to buy a Chromebook, MacBook, Surface Pro, that's none of your GD business and to the TWITS who still think Google wants to "spy on you", don't use any of their FREE products/services and leave it at that. Google uses the data to target ads to fit you. Don't like that, then pay for the services you use and stop leaching and then whining like a spoiled brat.

          Again, don't ASSume you know what's best for everyone else. We are more than capable of thinking for ourselves.

          ~Best wishes on YOUR choices
          GotThumbs
  • I think this is a bit of a red herring...

    Chromebooks *can* do things offline.. but not that much and not that well. It's even worse than Android - at least that has dedicated apps that are designed to work offline.
    TheWerewolf
    • Get with the program ...

      Criticism sounds so much better from someone who actually knows what they're criticising.
      Heenan73
      • Second one didn't work either

        A second personal attack failed just as much as the first. If you've got nothing to say, don't post.
        Buster Friendly
  • Online / Offline is irrelavant

    It's not a question of working online or offline, it's a question about Google accesing your data.
    No thanks.
    Rub2014
  • Most of the key stuff works offline

    But who's offline all the time anyway? Must be a US issue more than a European one.

    I like apps like 2X. Full Chrome app, so works offline. Really useful for an RDP tool :)
    Boothy_p
    • Think you'll find Off-line is an issue

      With anyone in the world that lives more than 50k's away for a major population center.
      Or if not off-line very slow speeds and bottlenecks depending on the time of the day!
      martin_js
  • Useless device, just get a proper laptop.

    .
    Owl:Net
    • proper laptop?

      I have an Acer C720. FWIW it is a nice machine for $200, but I honestly do not like the Chrome OS. However, for someone who does nothing but social media, it is perfect. For them it IS a proper notebook (You're showing your age using the name "laptop'. I do it myself sometimes!)
      babyboomer57
      • So now someone is criticized for using the term laptop

        Only two examples but I just went to Dell & HP websites to purchase a "notebook".
        Sorry but they only had Laptops, Ultra-books and Hybrids for sale.
        Sure the same would be true for other OEM's as well.
        What has age got to do with anything?
        Sounds more like he just doesn't hang out in your circle.
        thekman58
        • What has age got to do with it?

          When 'Laptops' were first produced that is all they were EVER called. They didn't start calling them 'Notebooks' until the late 80's or early 90's. THAT'S what age has to do with it.

          As far as it being 'criticism ', I guess you missed the part where I said I do it sometimes, too. I'm sure Owl knew I was poking fun at him. The brackets should have been your clue.

          Or maybe you don't have one.
          babyboomer57
    • Did a search of “proper laptop”

      First link; The Acer C720, Fast, light, portable. Starting at $199.

      http://www.google.com/intl/en/chrome/devices/acer-c720-chromebook.html?gclid=CKGL1favuL8CFcwRMwodCy0A7Q#ac-c720

      So funny.
      daikon
      • Bhahaha...Google results are cooked.

        .
        Owl:Net
      • LOL and just who is serving up the AD's?

        will give you a hint, the name starts with a "G"
        too freaking funny
        wonder what search engine you used
        LOL
        thekman58
    • Owl:NET ASSumes to know best for everyone else?

      Buy what YOU want to buy, but do not ASSume you have any weight over what other people buy.

      If someone else wants to buy a Chromebook, that's none of your GD business.


      to the idiots who still think Google wants to "spy on you", don't use any of their FREE products/services and leave it at that.

      Again, don't ASSume you know what's best for everyone else. We are more than capable of thinking for ourselves.

      ~Best wishes on YOUR choices
      GotThumbs
  • cloud device

    As the author said, it's more about perception. I don't think not being able to work offline is a big issue for many potential consumers.
    AleMartin