Google Chrome is killing off this feature for Windows and Mac, but should you care?

Google has revealed some more information about its planned removal of Chrome apps from its mind-bogglingly popular Chrome web browser. The client, which is available on Android smartphones, Windows, macOS, iPhone and Linux, will start to phase out Chrome apps in the coming months, with new apps no longer accepted from March 2020. Google hasn’t been shy about its plans to eradicate the apps. But until now, we didn’t have a clear idea about when the cull would be taking place.

Chrome apps will no longer be supported on Windows, Mac and Linux from June 2020. However, any Chrome users who have the Chrome Enterprise and Chrome Education Upgrade will be able to extend that support until December 2020. That’s because it typically takes businesses and educational organisations a little longer to migrate away from a certain technology, or system. It’s the same reason Microsoft will continue to support Windows 7 to businesses and schools for an extra three years – despite millions of users being left without protection from malware this week.

Finally, Google will end support for Chrome apps on Chrome OS – the browser-based operating system that powers its ChromeBook laptops in June 2021. Again, those with Chrome Enterprise and Chrome Education Upgrade can extend that deadline to June 2022 if they wish. And that’s it, from June 2022 nobody will be able to use Chrome apps again.

So, should you be worried?

Well, it depends on your use-case. Google is bringing an end to Chrome apps because the vast majority of its users didn’t really rely on them. That said, if you’re one of the minority that enjoyed using the apps – or relied on a particular third-party app for the Chrome browser – this could be a serious blow.

Google has given fair warning about the end of its Chrome apps. It had originally planned to ditch the software on Windows, macOS, and Linux in early 2018 before indefinitely delaying the move in December 2017. Since then, Google has removed the Chrome Apps section from the Chrome Web Store.

Chrome apps are not be confused with extensions – the small add-ons that bring new functionality to your web browser, like the ability to block intrusive adverts and track prices of items online. Those aren’t going anywhere. Instead, Chrome apps are small apps that launched in separate windows to your main Chrome browser and ran like a standalone application installed on your Windows or Mac computer. However, deep down these apps were powered by the same Chrome technology that helps you surf around the web.

Since Chrome apps often enabled offline functionality, it’s understandable that Google is letting those on ChromeOS a little more time to fade away.

According to Google, around one percent of its total users actively use Chrome apps. Given that 67.28 percent of all desktop users worldwide use Chrome, that’s still a pretty impressive number of users – but a small proportion of those who use Chrome.

The news comes as Microsoft has embraced the Chromium engine built by Google to power its ubiquitous Chrome web browser for an overhauled version of its Edge web browser. It’s now available to download on Windows and Mac right now.