Apps written to run on any computer that has the Chrome browser installed are gaining some new tricks. Google’s Chromium team, the group behind the open source Chromium browser, announced six new and improved APIs on Monday that can be used by developers of Chrome Packaged Apps. As a result, the march towards Chrome as a desktop platform unto itself is continuing forward.
So what can these Packaged Apps now do? For users of the Chrome developer channel, apps can now authenticate users with the OAuth 2.0 standard; a typical method used by many web and native mobile apps today. Google says that Google Plus is supported through this API, as well as third-party services such as Foursquare and GitHub. Developers can also use the Google Wallet service for in-app payments in their Packaged Apps and gain application data metrics through a new Analytics API.
Consumers may appreciate the updates to Chrome’s Media Gallery API, which now includes access to iTunes music libraries; something we knew was in the works last month. The new Bluetooth API update ties in nicely with that feature as well: Packaged Apps can now connect wirelessly to Bluetooth speakers and headphones. Lastly, a Native Messaging API has been introduced to allow Chrome apps to interface with native apps and external devices or sensors.
Why are all of these new features for Chrome Packaged Apps important? Chrome is fast becoming its own platform; one that can run atop a traditional desktop operating system, but one that can also stand alone. The browser isn’t just a browser: It’s Google’s long-term strategy to capture user engagement and data while offering a native desktop experience.