Google Delivers Developer Tools for Apps for Android and iOS

by Ostatic Staff - Jan. 30, 2014

It was back in September of last year that the Google Chrome team delivered an extensive post up heralding "packaged apps" that work with Chrome, which the team obviously felt could become a game-changer for Google's browser. "These apps are more powerful than before, and can help you get work done, play games in full-screen and create cool content all from the web," wrote the Chrome team. Many of us have tried some of these apps and experienced how they make the browser feel almost like an operating system underlying applications.

As I reported here, Google has also been working to help developers port Chrome apps to other operating systems, ranging from Apple's iOS to Android. Now, a post on The Chromium Blog confirms the arrival of a related, early developer preview of a toolchain based on Apache Cordova, an open-source mobile development framework for building native mobile apps using HTML, CSS and JavaScript.

According to the post:

"The toolchain wraps your Chrome App with a native application shell and enables you to distribute your app via Google Play and the Apple App Store. We provide a simple developer workflow for packaging a Chrome App natively for mobile platforms. You can run your Chrome App on a device or emulator using the command-line or an IDE. Alternatively, you can use the Chrome Apps Developer Tool to run your app on an Android device without the need to install an IDE or the mobile platform’s SDK."

"For web developers, this toolchain provides a simple workflow for extending the reach of Chrome Apps to users on mobile platforms. The toolchain is in developer preview mode, and we expect to continually improve it based on your feedback. To get started, take a look at our dev workflow and sample apps."

 Unlike Android apps, Chrome apps are mostly built around web standards, so enabling Chrome apps to straddle operating systems will require some technical gymnastics. If Google can pull these moves off, though, the stakes are high. Attracting app developers is everything on mobile platforms, but Apple has done an insanely good job of making it most lucrative for developers to build apps for iOS. If Google can help usher in a world of easy app development for "hybrid apps" that can work across operating systems, that could enable developers to reach larger audiences. It might make many of them more friendly to Android.

As just one example of the cross-platform potential of all of this, Google has posted this shot of a simple to-do list app running on a Mac and on Android: