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.