Chrome Packaged Apps gaining Android powers

Chrome's enhanced Web apps, known as Packaged Apps, take on more features to compete with native mobile apps, including in-app payments.

Google's Identity API will let developers give more control to their users. Google

The foundation for making Web apps as powerful as native code is slowly sliding into place, as Google announced new back-end support for its Chrome Packaged Apps in a Chrome dev update on Monday.

The new support, expected in the stable version of Chrome in around six weeks, allows Packaged Apps to use a new set of APIs (application programming interfaces). Packaged Apps are a variant of Web sites, like Gmail, that are designed to load flawlessly even when not connected to the Internet.

These include the In App Payments API that's built on Google Wallet; the Identity API for authentication; the Native Messaging API so that Chrome apps can communicate with native apps; a Media Gallery API for accessing locally stored music, image, and video files, including from iTunes; a Bluetooth 4.0-based API that Google says will let the Web apps connect to Low Energy health-tracking devices; and an Analytics API for monitoring app user data.

Some of the additional features will provide developers with more feature-rich options that native apps have been able to lord over the Web. In the In App Payments API, for example, Google notes that developers will be able to build simple one-time and subscription-based billing into their Web apps. The Identity API will let developers provide more granular control over how much information about user behavior in an app becomes available to the public.

It's small improvements like these that Google and other browser developers hope will continue to keep developers interested in coding for the Web, as well as making Chrome a bit more like Android. But keep those dreams of Chrome and Android merging in check -- that's still years away.

About the author

Senior writer Seth Rosenblatt covers Google and security for CNET News, with occasional forays into tech and pop culture. Formerly a CNET Reviews senior editor for software, he has written about nearly every category of software and app available.

 

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