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Google reportedly working on Chrome apps toolkit for iOS ports

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 
As part of its initiative to bring based Chrome packaged desktop apps to mobile, Google is reportedly preparing a beta release of a toolkit that will help developers create native apps for mobile platforms like Apple's iOS.

Chrome
Google's Chrome OS.


Evidence of the beta was discovered by The Next Web in a GitHub repository called "Mobile Chrome Apps," which is being headed up by Google software developer Michal Mocny.

According to the project's description, Mobile Chrome Apps is a toolkit for porting Chrome Packaged Apps to Android and iOS hybrid web applications using Apache Cordova. Other operating systems are also mentioned, including Apple's OS X and Microsoft's Windows.

From the summary:
  • You're excited about Chrome Packaged App for Windows, OSX, Linux, and ChromeOS. Sweet!
  • You've discovered this toolkit for creating Android & iOS hybrid native apps with chrome app polyfills.
  • Follow our Guide (below) to Import your existing chrome app (or start fresh).
  • ????
    (modify for mobile design, fix bugs, work-around limitations, and test)
  • Publish to the Android Play Store or iOS App Store.
  • Profit!

The Getting Started page, along with other introduction assets, notes various steps must be taken to produce adequate apps, such as as mobile design tweaks, bug fixes and platform testing. Currently, iOS support is "TBA," but The Next Web reports work has already started toward the development of these so-called "hybrid" apps.

Chrome Apps are written in Web coding languages HTML5, JavaScript and CSS, but behave like native apps and can run offline. These hybridized products are meant to combine the stability of a webpage with the power of an app coded specifically for a given operating system. Unlike Web apps, Chrome Apps have access to Chrome APIs and services to interact with hardware, media tools and more.

Google offered no comment on the matter, but a source said the tools are nearing their final stages of development and an official announcement should be coming early next year.
post #2 of 18
i would be suspicious of any "cross platform" tools offered by Google - the only platforms they are interested in benefiting are Chrome & Android.

This was what Java was supposed to be. Whatever they offer will serve their ultimate master: nosy, snoopy advertising
post #3 of 18
I wonder just how kludgey these apps would be, compared to a native app, designed or written from the ground up to work in iOS. I suspect too many compromises, or too much aiming for the lowest common denominator.
post #4 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave MacLachlan View Post

I wonder just how kludgey these apps would be, compared to a native app, designed or written from the ground up to work in iOS. I suspect too many compromises, or too much aiming for the lowest common denominator.

 

Projects like this always seem to make the end result appear more like the initiator (chrome) than the target platform.

 

It's a little bit of a holy grail for developers if they can pull it off, but I'm guessing Apple fans will want Apps that look and feel like Apple apps over chrome Apps.

 

If it gains Android like dominance it could be a danger in getting devs to continue native apps.

 

A little like Windows phone or the new Blackberry.  Their native Apps were so weak they built in support for Android apps.  Now developers are like why bother with BB apps, just make Android apps and they'll run on that platform too.

post #5 of 18

This would be amazing. This isn't about Chrome as a platform, it's about using HTML/CSS/JavaScript (all open standards not owned by Google or Apple) for rendering interfaces for Apps.  There is no reason why a developer couldn't write a responsive app, that looks and interacts differently depending on wether its running on Android or iOS, while still using 90% of the same code.

 

You'd be surprised how many Apps out there are already using WebViews wrapped by a native wrapper, this is no different. Done right, users would never know the difference.

post #6 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by CDonG4 View Post
 

This would be amazing. This isn't about Chrome as a platform, it's about using HTML/CSS/JavaScript (all open standards not owned by Google or Apple) for rendering interfaces for Apps.  There is no reason why a developer couldn't write a responsive app, that looks and interacts differently depending on wether its running on Android or iOS, while still using 90% of the same code.

 

You'd be surprised how many Apps out there are already using WebViews wrapped by a native wrapper, this is no different. Done right, users would never know the difference.

You don't have a clue. I am a developer, you are talking nonsense. Native apps will always have the edge over these stupid HTML5 ones.

post #7 of 18

Care to provide an substantive response, instead of just throw around insults. 

post #8 of 18
1) Is this even allowed? I though Apple made it clear one could only design with their SDK. Or did they only gave Adobe the finger with the Flash ported apps?

2) This Chrome OS seems to be developed by little children. With little fingers, so only they can touch those icons in the left hand corner.

3) I find the icon labels difficult to read.
Send from my iPhone. Excuse brevity and auto-corrupt.
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Send from my iPhone. Excuse brevity and auto-corrupt.
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post #9 of 18

Best result ever: Google forking WebKit and Apple gutting that crap out of WebKit.

post #10 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by CDonG4 View Post

This would be amazing. This isn't about Chrome as a platform, it's about using HTML/CSS/JavaScript (all open standards not owned by Google or Apple) for rendering interfaces for Apps.  There is no reason why a developer couldn't write a responsive app, that looks and interacts differently depending on wether its running on Android or iOS, while still using 90% of the same code.

You'd be surprised how many Apps out there are already using WebViews wrapped by a native wrapper, this is no different. Done right, users would never know the difference.

Isn't this what Adobe tried to do with its Flash developer? Apple killed it by not allowing Apps created in that environment. Steve Jobs penned a letter claiming these types of development packages catered to the lowest common denominator across platforms and ignored many of the unique APIs iOS offered ultimately resulting in a sub par experience. This seems like the same thing, and unless Apple changed its App Store rules this type of app is not allowed.
post #11 of 18
Why would I want Google spyware on my iPhone?

I already have native apps that don't steal my data, don't spam me with unwanted ads, and perform better.

No thanks, Google. Bad idea. Not interested.
post #12 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by TBell View Post


Isn't this what Adobe tried to do with its Flash developer? Apple killed it by not allowing Apps created in that environment. Steve Jobs penned a letter claiming these types of development packages catered to the lowest common denominator across platforms and ignored many of the unique APIs iOS offered ultimately resulting in a sub par experience. This seems like the same thing, and unless Apple changed its App Store rules this type of app is not allowed.

 

Not exactly.  Flash has a Virtual Machine (like Java) that allows it to run it's software.  Chrome "Apps" are just webpages with static local content, much like if you were use the Add to Home Screen functionality in iOS.  Cordova and other projects like it (PhoneGap), expose native APIs through JavaScript to the Web based App.  WebView based apps are very common and plenty exist on the App Store. In fact Facebook's iOS app was all HTML5 for a long time, but they weren't versed enough in the space to make a decent client (check out Sencha's post on remaking the Facebook client in HTML5 for iOS http://www.sencha.com/blog/the-making-of-fastbook-an-html5-love-story/ )

post #13 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by CDonG4 View Post
 

 

Not exactly.  Flash has a Virtual Machine (like Java) that allows it to run it's software.  Chrome "Apps" are just webpages with static local content, much like if you were use the Add to Home Screen functionality in iOS.  Cordova and other projects like it (PhoneGap), expose native APIs through JavaScript to the Web based App.  WebView based apps are very common and plenty exist on the App Store. In fact Facebook's iOS app was all HTML5 for a long time, but they weren't versed enough in the space to make a decent client (check out Sencha's post on remaking the Facebook client in HTML5 for iOS http://www.sencha.com/blog/the-making-of-fastbook-an-html5-love-story/ )

 


Here is a clip of JObs letter outlining Apple's thoughts on Flash, "

Quote:

Besides the fact that Flash is closed and proprietary, has major technical drawbacks, and doesn’t support touch based devices, there is an even more important reason we do not allow Flash on iPhones, iPods and iPads. We have discussed the downsides of using Flash to play video and interactive content from websites, but Adobe also wants developers to adopt Flash to create apps that run on our mobile devices.

We know from painful experience that letting a third party layer of software come between the platform and the developer ultimately results in sub-standard apps and hinders the enhancement and progress of the platform. If developers grow dependent on third party development libraries and tools, they can only take advantage of platform enhancements if and when the third party chooses to adopt the new features. We cannot be at the mercy of a third party deciding if and when they will make our enhancements available to our developers.

This becomes even worse if the third party is supplying a cross platform development tool. The third party may not adopt enhancements from one platform unless they are available on all of their supported platforms. Hence developers only have access to the lowest common denominator set of features. Again, we cannot accept an outcome where developers are blocked from using our innovations and enhancements because they are not available on our competitor’s platforms.

Flash is a cross platform development tool. It is not Adobe’s goal to help developers write the best iPhone, iPod and iPad apps. It is their goal to help developers write cross platform apps. And Adobe has been painfully slow to adopt enhancements to Apple’s platforms. For example, although Mac OS X has been shipping for almost 10 years now, Adobe just adopted it fully (Cocoa) two weeks ago when they shipped CS5. Adobe was the last major third party developer to fully adopt Mac OS X.

Our motivation is simple – we want to provide the most advanced and innovative platform to our developers, and we want them to stand directly on the shoulders of this platform and create the best apps the world has ever seen. We want to continually enhance the platform so developers can create even more amazing, powerful, fun and useful applications. Everyone wins – we sell more devices because we have the best apps, developers reach a wider and wider audience and customer base, and users are continually delighted by the best and broadest selection of apps on any platform."

 

 

It seems part or Apple's issue was using a third party development tool to create cross platform application because that degrades the IOS platform by allowing Apps to go through the App Store that cater to the lowest common denominator in term os APIs as opposed to developing apps unique to iOS.  My understanding was Adobe wanted to allow developers to use Flash to create cross platform Apps. Adobe would then export the Flash created program to the proper language needed for a specific environment. To the extent that is correct, this seems like what Google is trying to do. 

I also suspect wonder if Google will insert its own tracking code into completed projects. Otherwise, what is the motivation other than to try and get developers to use its tools to create Apps for Chrome with the added benefit of being able to export to other platforms as well. 

post #14 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by monstrosity View Post
 

You don't have a clue. I am a developer, you are talking nonsense. Native apps will always have the edge over these stupid HTML5 ones.

True, but we are probably talking about apps that are not high performance. A scheduling app, a glorified data interaction page, minesweeper and the like.

 

There are a lot of solutions and business apps that don't need to delve into objective C and the like. Think of Widgets. HTML and JavaScript have enough performance for most things except FPS games.

post #15 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by TBell View Post
 

To the extent that is correct, this seems like what Google is trying to do. 

 

No, there is no recompilation or interpolation from say Actionscript to Objective-C. They are web apps that iOS can already run, with tools to allow for access to device APIs as well as Chrome APIs. 

post #16 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fake_William_Shatner View Post
 

True, but we are probably talking about apps that are not high performance. A scheduling app, a glorified data interaction page, minesweeper and the like.

 

There are a lot of solutions and business apps that don't need to delve into objective C and the like. Think of Widgets. HTML and JavaScript have enough performance for most things except FPS games.

 

There are people making webkit wrapper apps to run WebGL in a native context. Ludei and their CocoonJS libraries is one of the best, and they can hit 60fps with fairly complex 3D scenes.  Still not as performant as pure OpenGL, but very impressive. https://www.ludei.com/cocoonjs/features/webgl/

post #17 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave MacLachlan View Post

I wonder just how kludgey these apps would be, compared to a native app, designed or written from the ground up to work in iOS. I suspect too many compromises, or too much aiming for the lowest common denominator.

Depends more on the developer than what you write in. Phonegap is already hugely popular for building apps in. If you've got an iPhone, chances are some of your apps will be written in phone gap.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by TBell View Post


Here is a clip of JObs letter outlining Apple's thoughts on Flash, "

 

It seems part or Apple's issue was using a third party development tool to create cross platform application because that degrades the IOS platform by allowing Apps to go through the App Store that cater to the lowest common denominator in term os APIs as opposed to developing apps unique to iOS.  My understanding was Adobe wanted to allow developers to use Flash to create cross platform Apps. Adobe would then export the Flash created program to the proper language needed for a specific environment. To the extent that is correct, this seems like what Google is trying to do. 

I also suspect wonder if Google will insert its own tracking code into completed projects. Otherwise, what is the motivation other than to try and get developers to use its tools to create Apps for Chrome with the added benefit of being able to export to other platforms as well. 

I think Apple abandoned there issues with 3rd part dev tools. Google iOS app creators and you will discover there are loads. There's even Xamarin that lets you write native apps in C# that compile to iOS, Mac, Windows, Windows Phone and Android.

 

I doubt Google will insert anything into the code. Seems more like a tool to make cross platform easier. Google (and Microsoft) have always put a lot of stuff out there for devs for free, that don't really do anything other than get devs interested in their products.

 

Personally I think anything that gives devs more options is beneficial.

post #18 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by CDonG4 View Post
 

 

There are people making webkit wrapper apps to run WebGL in a native context. Ludei and their CocoonJS libraries is one of the best, and they can hit 60fps with fairly complex 3D scenes.  Still not as performant as pure OpenGL, but very impressive. https://www.ludei.com/cocoonjs/features/webgl/

 

This bolsters the point that "html wrapper" is "good enough" for most uses of iOS for developers. The fact that SOME OpenGL and high performance can now be done because improved OpenGL and JavaScript libraries are available to provide it just makes the "you should ONLY use Objective C you slacker" arguments moot.

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