That was fast: Chrome Apps ready to go mobile

There's still a lot of work to be done, but Chrome's HTML5 Apps can now work on both Android and iOS (with a little help from a friend) just months after they were first announced for desktops.

Seth Rosenblatt Former Senior Writer / News
Senior writer Seth Rosenblatt covered 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.
Seth Rosenblatt
Apache Cordova wraps developers' HTML5 apps in code native to Android and iOS, so they can run on mobile devices. Google

The cold, hard walls between mobile native apps and HTML5 wobbled a bit on Tuesday morning, as Google announced that Chrome Apps will now work on the two most popular mobile platforms.

Chrome Apps are HTML5-based single-serving applications, more than just a mere Web site, that will work on Windows, Mac, and Chrome OS without having to open your browser first. However, because they're based in Chrome and can't function without it, they've been criticized for "breaking" the Web.

Google opened up a developer preview of the Apache Cordova "toolchain" for wrapping Chrome Apps in code native to Android and iOS. It's not perfect, but it lets developers more easily attain the Holy Grail of writing code once and publishing everywhere. After using Cordova, app makers will be able to publish their apps to Google Play and the Apple App Store. Google first revealed that mobile support for Chrome Apps was coming at the end of last year.

Google software engineer Andrew Grieve said that the Cordova toolchain "provides a simple workflow for extending the reach of Chrome Apps to users on mobile platforms."

Cordova lets developers write apps in HTML5, CSS, and JavaScript, then wraps the app in the native coding languages for iOS and Android, connecting APIs from HTML5 to the native code as best it can. Since it's only being released as a developer preview right now, developers can expect improvements in Cordova.