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Google Launches Cordova Powered Chrome Apps For Android and iOS

Unknown Lamer posted about 6 months ago | from the breaking-free dept.

Google 47

An anonymous reader writes "Google has launched Chrome apps for Android and iOS. The company is offering an early developer preview of a toolchain based on Apache Cordova, an open-source mobile development framework for building native mobile apps using HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. Developers can use the tool to wrap their Chrome app with a native application shell that enables them to distribute it via Google Play and Apple's App Store."

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If the Shoe Fits (1)

jwillis84 (1404829) | about 6 months ago | (#46099913)

Cordova? Really? I want "Fine Corinthian Leather" next

Re:If the Shoe Fits (2)

stoolpigeon (454276) | about 6 months ago | (#46099971)

This makes me wonder if anyone who has worked with PhoneGap has also worked just with Cordova and if what PhoneGap brings makes it worth it?

And would this mean that the google toolchain is basically another PhoneGap type tool?

If it's not obvious - I don't know a ton about either but I'm interested as it seems to be one of the few ways to really knock out some simple apps for Android and iOS rather than writing Java and Objective C.

Re:If the Shoe Fits (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46100163)

Phonegap offers an online build tool where you just zip, upload and hit a button to compile the code to iOS or Android formats as opposed to having to do it yourself with Cordova.

Re:If the Shoe Fits (0)

Chrisq (894406) | about 6 months ago | (#46100111)

Is it named after the place where the Muzzies crucified Christians for "blasphemy" [wikipedia.org] (expressing their belief)?

Re:If the Shoe Fits (1)

dZap (698758) | about 6 months ago | (#46100335)

No, it is named after Cordova Street in Vancouver where Nitobi, the original developer of PhoneGap, had an office [phonegap.com] .

Re:If the Shoe Fits (1)

angel'o'sphere (80593) | about 6 months ago | (#46100579)

Except they where beheaded and not crucified ... and usually not expressing simply their believe but blaspheming the muslims.

Re:If the Shoe Fits (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46106023)

"Blashpeming" -- that would be, by saying that Mo was not, in fact, a prophet -- as you would have to believe if you were a Christian.

Re:If the Shoe Fits (1)

Chrisq (894406) | about 6 months ago | (#46107913)

"Blashpeming" -- that would be, by saying that Mo was not, in fact, a prophet -- as you would have to believe if you were a Christian.

And this is what Muslims want to bring back to Western countries

Obscuring the point (1)

VernonNemitz (581327) | about 6 months ago | (#46100251)

The main article is kind of silly. If I write an "app" that uses only HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, then that app can run in the browser, an the Operating System, whether it be Chrome or Windows or iOS or Android, doesn't matter in the least, so long as the browser is modern enough to handle HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. Here is an example of such an "app" [nemitz.net] .

Re:Obscuring the point (2)

tepples (727027) | about 6 months ago | (#46100423)

the Operating System, whether it be Chrome or Windows or iOS or Android, doesn't matter in the least, so long as the browser is modern enough to handle HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.

The operating system matters, but only if three things are true:

  • The operating system refuses to run uncertified applications without an additional fee. This is true of, for example, iOS and game consoles.
  • The operating system's publisher refuses to certify any browser that implements certain web APIs, such as WebGL or getUserMedia or data uploads other than pictures or videos.
  • Your application cannot work without one of these features.

For example, this brain visualization [slashdot.org] elicited complaints about inability to work around limitations of Safari for iOS. And last time I checked the App Store Review Guidelines, all web browsers for iOS had to be essentially Safari wrappers. [slashdot.org]

Re:Obscuring the point (1)

tlhIngan (30335) | about 6 months ago | (#46100707)

The operating system refuses to run uncertified applications without an additional fee. This is true of, for example, iOS and game consoles.

Except iOS will run web apps just fine - it always has since it was iPhoneOS 1.0, even (it was the original "development environment" Jobs was promoting for the iPhone. Apps came in 2.0 after developers clamoured for a more "native" development kit, but Apple was until that point campaigning for adding HTML5 extensions for GPS, sensors and camera).

Even today, you can have web apps on iOS which require zero approvals from Apple. Which, if your app is just HTML+CSS+Javascript...

Re:Obscuring the point (1)

tepples (727027) | about 6 months ago | (#46105637)

The operating system's publisher refuses to certify any browser that implements certain web APIs, such as WebGL or getUserMedia or data uploads other than pictures or videos.

iOS will run web apps just fine

It will not run web apps that require WebGL, the camera or microphone, or data uploads other than pictures or videos.

Re:Obscuring the point (1)

angel'o'sphere (80593) | about 6 months ago | (#46100643)

Erm? Your point?
We are not talking about stuff that runs in a browaser but about Apps, get a damn clue.
And yes, the Apps use the same high level paradigms but access via abstraction layers the underlying OS, which they can't in a browser. Hint: browsers sandbox most of the OS away, to exactly prevent accessing it.
E.g. an App can sent or receive text messages (on your android or iOS device) but a similar web page running in the browser can't!

Re:If the Shoe Fits (1)

davester666 (731373) | about 6 months ago | (#46102487)

It's "Rich Corinthian Leather", you parasite!

Useful for developers (5, Interesting)

Terry Pearson (935552) | about 6 months ago | (#46099929)

As a developer, I can see the usefulness of this. This makes me consider developing Chrome apps where previously I had not considered it. Usually, we have to choose our platforms based on our projected return and our limited time. This usually means that only Android and IOS are supported. Given that one could kill two birds with one stone, and have a bonus of Chrome apps, it may be worth checking out.

Re:Useful for developers (2)

Chrisq (894406) | about 6 months ago | (#46100041)

As a developer, I can see the usefulness of this. This makes me consider developing Chrome apps where previously I had not considered it. Usually, we have to choose our platforms based on our projected return and our limited time. This usually means that only Android and IOS are supported. Given that one could kill two birds with one stone, and have a bonus of Chrome apps, it may be worth checking out.

I think the key will be the capabilities. If you can write apps that are nearly as rich as the native apps and performant enough for the application then I agree - the question will be "why not develop for Chrome and deploy on all platforms".

Re:Useful for developers (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46100085)

I think if they really tried they could add a few extra layers of interpreters, virtual machines and emulation

Re:Useful for developers (2)

CastrTroy (595695) | about 6 months ago | (#46100097)

I like the idea of a common toolchain to produce apps on many different platforms, but personally I think HTML+CSS+JS is going down the wrong path. It will probably allow you to to hammer out simple apps quite quickly, but it will probably fall apart when doing something more complex. It isn't even Object Oriented (yes you can kind of make classes/objects by adding properties and functions to other functions, but it doesn't support things like inheritance). Personally, I wish that projects like this would try to do the same in Java, .Net, Python, C++, or anything other. The only company that seems to be looking into this seriously is Xamarin, which offers a single toolchain that lets you deploy on iOS, OSX, Android, and Windows (phone/RT/Desktop). They are a little pricy, but then again, they are the only game out there it seems.

Re:Useful for developers (2)

ducomputergeek (595742) | about 6 months ago | (#46100521)

As someone who has been using PhoneGAP/Cordova for about 3 years now it really depends on what the app has to do.

There was a rush a few years ago that a lot of my clients "wanted an app". Oftentimes all this app had to do was pull RSS feeds + add push notifications. For simple apps like that HTML5/JS/CSS/Cordova works great.

However when you start getting beyond simple "Feed & Form" Apps and need to more complex things. For instance, I had a client that wanted an app that needed a decibel meter. That had to be written in native code. While I could access the microphone I couldn't get more information beyond that.

Re:Useful for developers (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46104623)

It isn't even Object Oriented (yes you can kind of make classes/objects by adding properties and functions to other functions, but it doesn't support things like inheritance).

Everything in this sentence is wrong.

Re:Useful for developers (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46115945)

The only company that seems to be looking into this seriously is Xamarin, which offers a single toolchain that lets you deploy on iOS, OSX, Android, and Windows (phone/RT/Desktop). They are a little pricy, but then again, they are the only game out there it seems.

Embarcadero Delphi targets iOS, OSX, Android (except Gingerbread for some reason), and Windows (but not phone & RT). For those who cannot tolerate Object Pascal, the companion C++Builder supports the same targets except Android, support for which should be available later this year. Sadly, these tools are quite pricey, too.

- T

Re:Useful for developers (1)

jareth-0205 (525594) | about 6 months ago | (#46100781)

This makes me consider developing Chrome apps where previously I had not considered it.

Excellent. Please don't, though.

As a phone user (as well as a developer) I appreciate fast, easy to use, properly designed software. I have yet to see any piece of javascripted HTML that comes close to what a native app achieves. Even after all this time, all those javascript engine improvements, all those faster processors, anything that isn't pretty basic web *sucks* on mobile. That and the culture of web development never seems to take offline / unreliable connection as a serious issue, or supporting less-than-latest phones. Can we give up on the web-app emperors new clothes now?

Re:Useful for developers (1)

psydeshow (154300) | about 6 months ago | (#46103121)

This makes me consider developing Chrome apps where previously I had not considered it.

Excellent. Please don't, though.

Well, that depends on the why, doesn't it? Sometimes a thing is only worth doing if it can be done on the cheap and easy.

Cordova gives app developers a fallback for clients who can't afford a native app, or who need to get a prototype up and running yesterday as proof-of-concept or to fund the next stage of development. It's also great for novelties and one-offs that just wouldn't exist if the development process was more expensive than coding a small website.

It also creates a business opportunity that shouldn't be sniffed at: "Hey, nice web app. Do you wish it was faster and better? Let us re-create it as a native app for you."

Cordova - for apps of fine craftsmanship... (2)

RevWaldo (1186281) | about 6 months ago | (#46099945)

...with the feel of its rich Corinthian API.

.

WTF? (2, Funny)

TheDarkMaster (1292526) | about 6 months ago | (#46100013)

HTML and javascript to build a desktop app on a system with limited resources? Who broke into the mental hospital?

Re:WTF? (3, Informative)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about 6 months ago | (#46100137)

HTML and javascript to build a desktop app on a system with limited resources? Who broke into the mental hospital?

It depends on what your app does. This may not be a good choice for a 3D game. But it could work well for an app that lets you rate restaurants. Plenty of apps are not compute intensive.

Re:WTF? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46100183)

Exactly -- many apps that are already distributed as Chrome apps (to-do lists, note-taking apps, etc.) are perfect for this.

Re:WTF? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46100143)

"Limited" doesn't mean what it used to mean.

There are plenty of simple applications which would be a good fit for this. A shared grocery list app, for instance.

Why not?

Re:WTF? (1)

wiredlogic (135348) | about 6 months ago | (#46100155)

Wait for someone to run a javascript x86 emulator to host their app. That would be mental.

Jslinux (1)

tepples (727027) | about 6 months ago | (#46100555)

Wait for someone to run a javascript x86 emulator

Jslinux [bellard.org] . Enjoy.

Re:WTF? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46100161)

WTF? A desktop app on a phone?

You know phones have browsers on them now, right?

Browsers deliberately fail to implement features (1)

tepples (727027) | about 6 months ago | (#46100589)

You know phones have browsers on them now, right?

Yes, and I also know that browsers on phones don't expose the capabilities that users expect out of an application. For example, Safari doesn't support WebGL, getUserMedia, or uploads of content types other than pictures and videos. The limits appear deliberate in order to drive developers to the (paid) native app development program; for example, iAds support WebGL.

Re:WTF? (0)

NapalmV (1934294) | about 6 months ago | (#46100169)

The same guys that decided to run java on such systems?

Re:WTF? (2)

DickBreath (207180) | about 6 months ago | (#46100299)

Yeah. Imagine trying to run HTML and Javascript apps on a limited system with only gigahertz, gigabytes and always on internet available. What would people in 1995 think?

Re:WTF? (2)

femtobyte (710429) | about 6 months ago | (#46100491)

What would people in 1995 think?

Based on my memories of 1995, they'd think that the UI was far too low on blinking text and animated .gif bullet points to be useful.

Re:WTF? (1)

Jason Levine (196982) | about 6 months ago | (#46101733)

And frames. We need to add more frames. If we don't use lots of frames, how will people tell where the various sections of our website are?

Re:WTF? (1)

DickBreath (207180) | about 6 months ago | (#46104221)

You may find it hard to swallow, but since we're talking about web apps turned into native apps, how about embedding Flash and Java Applets?

Fortunately, I don't find much of anything hard to swallow.

No Linux support, as usual. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46100291)

Anyone else getting the feeling that Google is backing away from Linux distributions? I wonder if this is because they want Linux users to switch to Chrome OS and Android?

Re:No Linux support, as usual. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46101629)

Anyone else getting the feeling that Google is backing away from Linux distributions? I wonder if this is because they want Linux users to switch to Chrome OS and Android?

Linux doesn't have enough of the desktop market for Google to care what linux users do.

PhoneGap (1)

ZeroNullVoid (886675) | about 6 months ago | (#46100343)

So this is just PhoneGap with Chromes limited API added.

Late to the party (2)

CadentOrange (2429626) | about 6 months ago | (#46100471)

HTML5 was touted as the panacea of mobile app development back in 2012 (IIRC). The big news was when companies like Facebook and Linkedin migrated their iOS/Android apps to HTML5. Only problem is that the big name companies have since ditched [venturebeat.com] their HTML5 mobile apps and gone back to using native APIs. They cite performance issues (apps running out of memory and stuttery animation) as the reasons for the switch. This is not just limited to the big companies, and others are leaving [infoworld.com] the HTML5 mobile app boat.

Google seems a little late to the party.

"Native" mobile apps using HTML, CSS, and J... (1)

Wrath0fb0b (302444) | about 6 months ago | (#46100701)

FTFY.

Until the boffins at Intel or ARM create a processor whose machine code is JavaScript, you need bullshit quotes around that 'native' claim.

If you want to make the argument that you don't need native code, that's your prerogative. Depending on the use case and requirements, you will no doubt be correct in a large number of cases -- I don't need a native slashdot app, the HTML version is quite sufficient.

But why in God's name do you need to make a preposterous claim like that? What does that buy you?

Re:"Native" mobile apps using HTML, CSS, and J... (1)

ChunderDownunder (709234) | about 6 months ago | (#46105793)

Until the boffins at Intel or ARM create a processor whose machine code is JavaScript

(Not JS but for J2ME) ARM did try embedding hardware support for VMs in the form of Jazelle and ThumbEE. That was a bust, since regular JIT compilation with more advanced VM techniques proved more performant.

do7l (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46101881)

smells worse than a here, but what is there are create, manufaCture J>ava IRC client Troubled OS. Now

nsa (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46103857)

With nsa around, anyone see the networking need permisson by default in apps compiled with cordova?

VS PhoneGap (1)

RebrandSoftware (817021) | about 6 months ago | (#46107073)

I don't see how I could develop with this. PhoneGap gives you access to the phone itself: Contacts, Camera, Accelerometer, Etc. Even then I sometimes find it difficult to get all of the functionality I want in my mobile app and have to turn to user created plugins.

It doesn't seem like I can access any of that with this technology, only the Chrome APIs that they mentioned. Very limiting.

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