Packaged Apps May Come to Android, iOS Next Month

We already knew that Google's packaged apps would eventually infiltrate Android and iOS, and now there's evidence to support a possible January introduction. Packaged apps are based on the Chrome browser, but use HTML5, CSS3 and JavaScript to function outside the browser UI and offline. These apps look and feel like normal apps, but don't install locally like traditional apps.

TheNextWeb has reportedly stumbled across a GitHub repository called Mobile Chrome Apps led by Michal Mocny, a Software Developer at Google. This repository hosts a toolkit for developers to fit existing Chrome apps into a mobile environment, as well as develop Chrome apps specifically used on mobile devices. So far, Google has not officially announced the toolkit, but developers can access and use the goods now.

TheNextWeb points out that the toolkit isn't hosted on Google Code, but a quick search on Google Groups confirms that the project is underway. When asked about when packaged apps will begin testing on mobile devices, Google developer advocate Joe Marini said that "we hope to have something in beta form in January."

For Windows, Linux and Mac, packaged apps are typically located in the "For Your Desktop" section of the Chrome Web Store. Available apps include Google Keep, WeatherBug, Cracking Sands Racing, RAD Soldiers and a number of others. These can be launched via the Chrome App Launcher, which resides next to the system clock on Windows-based machines, or from within the Chrome browser.

As we've previously reported, packaged apps do not sport tabs, buttons or text buttons, thus presenting a native desktop app-like presentation. They can work offline, save data locally to the hard drive as well as Google Drive and other services in the cloud, and even interact directly with local USB and Bluetooth peripherals like digital cameras, mice and game controllers. Packaged apps are also capable of desktop notifications.

"Today we're unveiling a new kind of Chrome App, which brings together the speed, security and flexibility of the modern web with the powerful functionality previously only available with software installed on your devices," said Erik Kay, Engineering Director and Chrome App-ologist, back in September. "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."

What will be interesting is how these apps will perform on mobile hardware. Naturally, Google has declined to comment.