What Are Chrome Apps?

Chrome Apps let you use HTML5, CSS, and JavaScript to deliver an experience comparable to a native application.

Why build a Chrome App?

By building a Chrome App, as opposed to going with a traditional web app or a native mobile app, you expand your potential audience and extend your development capability.

Expand your potential audience

When you write a Chrome App, as opposed to an app that runs natively on a particular operating system, you immediately make your app available to a much wider audience.

To any desktop

Instead of writing and maintaining separate applications for Windows, OS X and Linux, you can write a single application that runs anywhere Chrome runs. This includes Windows, Linux, and OS X.

To mobile devices [via Cordova]

Using Chrome Apps for Mobile (MCA), you can deploy your applications to mobile and target hardware features only available on Android and IOS platforms.

And of course, to a Chromebook

Writing a Chrome App is the ONLY way to have your app installed on a Chromebook. Chromebooks are appealing, inexpensive, low maintenance devices that provide a full web experience.

Extend your development capability

You might be thinking, “If I write a standard web application, I can run it on any platform that has a web browser.” Of course, this is absolutely right, but remember that Chrome Apps extend your development capacity beyond what you can do with traditional web apps:

  • Chrome Apps can integrate seamlessly into the desktop and look more like desktop applications than traditional web apps.
  • Chrome Apps for Desktop have no omnibox (address bar) and tab strip like normal browser-based apps, because like native desktop apps, they don’t live in a browser.
  • The Chrome App Launcher makes it easy for users to find and start your Chrome App.
  • OS X users can use the integrated spotlight search to find and start your app.
  • Chrome Apps for Desktop can access the host computer’s file system and make use of hardware features (like USB, Bluetooth and attached human interface devices).

The best way to see what Chrome Apps look like is to install some.

Who should build Chrome Apps?

Everyone! But some sectors have a special interest in Chrome Apps.

Device manufacturers

The cross platform nature of Chrome Apps makes writing device drivers less painful. A device manufacturer only needs to write one application for configuring their device and it will run on any device.


Chromebooks are an inexpensive, low-maintenance option for bringing laptops into every classroom. Chrome Apps make teaching easy with easy to install applications that run natively on Chromebooks. For example:

Health care providers

One pediatric service has so far saved tens of thousands of dollars using Chrome Apps on Chromebooks.

Chrome Dev Editor

Use the full featured IDE in the Chrome Dev Editor.

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