Google’s Chrome now enables, and encourages, developers to embrace what Google is calling “packaged apps” – web-based apps that look and feel like native apps. According to this report from Information Week, these “packaged apps” sound like they’re basically hybrid apps (combining the benefits of web apps with the benefits of native apps).
Packaged Web apps may be new but they feel familiar. Google’s packaged apps platform, said Google engineering manager Erik Kay in a demonstration video, helps you “make apps that feel more like native applications.”…
n other words, it’s largely about appearances.
Packaged apps launch in their own window, like native apps, and they can be launched outside of Chrome, like native apps. They are offline by default and are less dependent on a network connection–a source of frustration for users when connectivity is slow or not available. They support system-level APIs to access TCP/IP, USB, and Bluetooth, as well as APIs for cross-application data sharing. And they support new app-windowing APIs so they can manage multiple windows, just like Windows, Linux, or OS X.
I’m confident that users aren’t really that befuddled by web apps, just more inconvenienced by them sometimes, which is why I think the API access and offline capabilities of these package apps are more exciting and important than simply feeling like a native app.
The issue is these apps, though, are Chrome-specific, which takes away the huge cross-platform benefits web apps usual offer. Still, this step moves us in a new, and logical, direction in the web app versus native app war. And Chrome is not alone, several companies are offering ways to make web apps feel more native.
There are other alternatives to Google’s packaged app technology: Developer Todd Ditchendorf makes a Mac app called Fluid, which allows users to turn Web apps into OS X desktop apps. It’s not really comparable on a development level, but it’s similar from a user experience perspective. And of course there’s Adobe AIR, which can package Flash and Web apps to run without a browser, using the AIR runtime.
Read the full Information Week article >>>