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LinuxInsider.com

Google Says Sayonara to Chrome App Launcher

By Jack M. Germain
Mar 23, 2016 2:38 PM PT

Google on Tuesday announced that it was shutting down the Chrome app launcher everywhere but in the Chrome OS.

Google Says Sayonara to Chrome App Launcher

That means users who like to launch their favorite Google apps from a menu will have to settle for launching them only within the Google Chrome browser or through shortcuts in their bookmark bar.

Windows, Mac and Linux users prefer launching their apps within Chrome, according to Marc Pawliger, engineering director for Chrome.

Removing the launcher is part of Google's ongoing process of simplifying and streamlining browser features, he said.

"The company should benefit by cutting costs and effort on what it considers an unnecessary feature. The main negative here is that doing so could tick off Chrome users who prefer the App Launcher," remarked Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT.

Little Time Left

Google will phase in the removal process starting in the next few weeks, according to Pawliger. In a few weeks, the Chrome browser will not engage when users add a Chrome app. In July, all instances of the launcher will be gone -- except within Chrome, where the launcher will remain unchanged.

Users still will have the option to launch Chrome apps by clicking the apps shortcut in the bookmarks bar. They also can type chrome://apps in the omnibox, Pawliger pointed out.

It is not likely that many users will be upset by the change, according to Rob Enderle, principal analyst at the Enderle Group. Windows and Mac users rarely used the launch tool.

Even most Linux users did not consider it indispensable, he told LinuxInsider.

"Competing OSes have their own tool bars. Users really only need to focus on a tool bar from Chrome OS since it still needs one," said Enderle. "There was never a good reason for a redundant tool bar, and Google is just correcting that mistake."

Little Gain for Google

It is a waste of resources for Google to maintain redundant features that folks do not use, Enderle pointed out. The separate launcher never made sense and likely was a poor engineering decision.

On the other hand, it served as more than a way to give users easy access to Chrome apps outside the browser, suggested King. It also provided Google with a bit of real estate on non-Chrome desktops.

However, "detractors pointed out that it simply added to clutter and could also impact system performance," he acknowledged.

The gains for Google are different with the Chrome OS. It focuses company resources on efforts with bigger and better payback, King said. "The App Launcher enhances Chrome devices. So keeping the function working there makes good sense."


Jack M. Germain has been writing about computer technology since the early days of the Apple II and the PC. He still has his original IBM PC-Jr and a few other legacy DOS and Windows boxes. He left shareware programs behind for the open source world of the Linux desktop. He runs several versions of Windows and Linux OSes and often cannot decide whether to grab his tablet, netbook or Android smartphone instead of using his desktop or laptop gear. You can connect with him on Google+.


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