Google Says Sayonara to Chrome App Launcher

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

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 onGoogle+.

1 Comment

  • I think for most users of Chrome they use the browser because its fast, it is supported across many platforms and its fairly secure. Its the basics of simplicity that made it popular and why almost every browser out there has taken its simplicity as a model for their own browser. If people use anything they PIN frequent things to desktops, or setup bookmarks. Launcher just seemed out of sorts with me and never was useful. Google has always been about throwing things out there and see what makes sense to the user. Many times I believe users feel Google should just leave things well enough alone. Change is good, only if opinion dictates that its needed. I think many times these tech company just do changes just because they need something to do.

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