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Summary:

If Google Chrome is the company’s long-term strategy to capture engagement, Chrome apps need more native-like features. Several new APIs add just that to Chrome Packaged Apps, which run outside of the browser.

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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.

Google Keep

As a quick refresher: Packaged Apps are those than can run outside of the Chrome browser on a Mac, Linux machine or Windows PC. And of course, they can also run on Google Chromebooks and Chromeboxes, which operate on the Chrome OS. Think of these as standalone apps that are built on traditional web technologies such as HTML, CSS and JavaScript, yet they look and behave like native apps. (You can hear a detailed explanation directly from Joe Marini, a Google developer evangelist on our GigaOM Chrome Show podcast here.)

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.

Google Wallet in Packaged App

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.

  1. Gene Vayngrib Thursday, July 11, 2013

    This development will become million times more important when these features are released on mobiles, in Chrome on Android and, may be, just may be one day in Chrome on iOS. Then, along with the recently released Chrome Push Notifications for packaged apps, it will give major ammunition to HTML5 apps.

    Mozilla is on the same path, by the way. Arguable, it may have even started this revolution 2 years ago with the FirefoxOS development. Firefox packaged apps are available in early version on Android and on FirefoxOS, push notifications are in the 1.1 version of FirefoxOS and soon will appear on Andorid and the desktop, Bluetooth API is available on Firefox OS, although it is limited for now to the certified FirefoxOS apps.

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