Progressive Web Apps is a Google technology which lets developers create web applications which look and act just like proper desktop applications.
Already available on ChromeOS, Google was meant to enable to feature on the desktop in early 2018, replacing Chrome Apps. Microsoft hopes to boost their Microsoft app store by ingesting the web apps automatically and has worked with Google to develop the technology.
Now Google has sent an email to developers saying that the depreciation of Chrome Apps in favour of PWA is being delayed. They wrote:
The Chrome team is now working to enable Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) to be installed on the desktop. Once this functionality ships (roughly targeting mid-2018), users will be able to install web apps to the desktop and launch them via icons and shortcuts; similar to the way that Chrome Apps can be installed today.
In order to enable a more seamless transition from Chrome Apps to the web, Chrome will not fully remove support for Chrome Apps on Windows, Mac or Linux until after Desktop PWA installability becomes available in 2018. Timelines are still rough, but this will be a number of months later than the originally planned deprecation timeline of “early 2018”.
We also recognize that Desktop PWAs will not replace all Chrome App capabilities. We have been investigating ways to simplify the transition for developers that depend on exclusive Chrome App APIs, and will continue to focus on this – in particular the Sockets, HID and Serial APIs.
The timeline appears to have slipped from the beginning of 2018 to the second half at the earliest. Its notable that Chrome Apps still appear to have capabilities PWAs will not have, and it appears Google wishes to plug that gap first.
While Progressive Web Apps are being held up by many in the industry as the next wave of application development, they appear to be a solution looking for a problem which was already solved by running Android apps on ChromeOS. Given this, the impact of the delay will likely not be significant, even on Microsoft’s anaemic app store.