Google's Chrome Apps and Launcher come to Macs

Google's Chrome Apps and Launcher come to Macs

Summary: Google's App Launcher for Macs arrive to support the company's new breed of Chrome apps.

TOPICS: Google, Apps, Browser

Apple desktop users can now get their hands on Chrome apps. Google has moved its Chrome app launcher for Macs out of developer preview, today announcing the full release of the desktop tool which supports its emerging line of offline apps.

The app launcher for Macs release, announced by Google yesterday, builds on the company's recent efforts around 'packaged' Chrome apps for Windows desktops. Google launched a developer preview of the App Launcher in February, bringing a Chromebook-like experience to other platforms.

The main difference between the web apps already on the Chrome Store and Google's newer packaged apps is that instead of running inside a browser tab, they run in a separate chrome-less window and launch from a tray called the 'Chrome App Launcher'.

Mac users won't need to install the launcher, which automatically comes with the first Chrome app downloaded from the Chrome Web Store's 'For Your Desktop' category.

Some of the apps already there include Pocket, Google Keep (its take on Evernote), The Economist and 500px; however, it's still a sparse collection compared with normal apps in the Chrome Web Store.

The Chrome App Launcher itself is placed as an icon in the Mac's application dock, from which users can search and launch Chrome apps. It also enables Chrome apps to be searched from Apple's Spotlight search like any other native desktop application.

Chrome Apps have access to Chrome APIs that normal websites don't, thus enabling them to run offline, interact with USB and Bluetooth devices, and be automatically updated.

Google introduced those changes earlier this year through 'packaged apps', which were designed to work with the Chrome App Launcher. Until recently, these have only been supported on Windows.

Google's official launch of these style of apps for Windows came in September, which followed the July release of the final version of Windows-based app launcher. A desktop Linux launcher is yet to arrive.

The search company's efforts to bring more Chrome apps to other platforms come as Microsoft's turns up the heat on its campaign against Chromebooks. No doubt, helping developers take their Chrome apps beyond just its own Chromebooks could help flesh out Google's current ecosystem of offline apps.

Further reading

Topics: Google, Apps, Browser

Liam Tung

About Liam Tung

Liam Tung is an Australian business technology journalist living a few too many Swedish miles north of Stockholm for his liking. He gained a bachelors degree in economics and arts (cultural studies) at Sydney's Macquarie University, but hacked (without Norse or malicious code for that matter) his way into a career as an enterprise tech, security and telecommunications journalist with ZDNet Australia. These days Liam is a full time freelance technology journalist who writes for several publications.

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  • I've tried some of the charting and flowchart apps

    They seem pretty darned feeble. Perhaps I'm spoiled by Visio and OpenOffice draw, but these really need to get better before I can make any use of them.
    • Each to their own

      I actually find Gliffy easier and quicker to use than Visio.
      But, it depends on what purpose you are using the app for I guess.
    • OpenOffice

      Google now owns OpenOffice. They've been concentrating on text documents and spreadsheets thus far, but I wouldn't be surprised to see OpenOffice Draw ported over to a Chrome app.

      Check out the just released update of 'Google Sheets' to see what a difference 'packaged apps' can make. That's the first application I've seen which isn't 'just' a standard web app packaged up to run offline. As more apps are developed to be true Chrome apps, rather than web apps ported over to Chrome, the 'feeble' issue will disappear. There just aren't alot of applications taking advantage of all the new capabilities they have added to Chrome apps... yet.
  • Nice try but in vain.

    Consumers love light-weight apps for their phones and tablets but prefer more serious applications when invoking their PCs.
    • right, and chrome apps are a way to enable more serious native apps

      • Google battle is for the future

        They won't persuade the current entrenched generation of users to employ a different computing thought process, but the next generation, those who've grown up with mobile devices and chromebooks in school will use whatever works for them, not just complain constantly about "real" apps, and their "real" work!
        • "Thought processes" are irrelevant

          The work is all that matters.

          "SuperHTMLBuildingDesigner 0.000111 for Chrome!!! Can do 0.2% of Autocad's work!!!" ain't going to fly, if it is a 600 foot building you're putting up.
          • The work is all that matters

            That's very boring. What about family, friends and life in general? :)

            As I said above, it depends on the work you are doing.
            I've never opened autocad/photoshop in my life (or ever intend to).
            But for doing process flows (for example) Visio or Gliffy work equally as well.

            Dissing something because it doesn't meet your particular (rather specialized) need isn't very clever. A lot of these apps, and web apps, will work perfectly well for the vast majority of people.

            And remember they are just getting started. It's going to be a long project trying to push these out.
          • Underestimating Chrome apps

            When Chrome apps were just web apps that would run offline you had a point. Now that they can run C/C++ code and access most APIs on the local device your suggestion that a Chrome app will only ever be able to match 0.2% of Autocad's capability is simply wrong.

            It will take time to develop Chrome apps which take advantage of the new capabilities Google has built into them, but there is no reason that a Chrome app cannot now compete directly with programs like Autocad, Photoshop, and Microsoft Office. If apps like those get built in Chrome they will be fully functional... and able to run on Windows devices, Macs, iOS devices, Android devices, et cetera. From a single code base.

            You are looking at what Chrome apps WERE (i.e. web apps that run offline)... not what they now CAN BE (i.e. apps that are 'native' everywhere Chrome is installed).
    • Wha?

      There's functionality and licensing cost. I don't really give a fig if something that helps me at a cost I'd pay is popular or not.

      While I'm on the obvious roll, any one who posts a broad condemnation at the moment of release clearly has an overriding agenda and should be suspect with regards to taking payments for posting hit posts.

      And should be ignored. Well, for that last bit, mea culpa.