Chrome-based Calculator app

Existing and new Chrome apps can run on Android using today's new tools

The picture you see above is Google's future. No, not a poorly designed calculator application that doesn't even fill the window it is drawn in, but the code behind it. You see, the same code that runs this Chrome packaged application was used, line for line, to build this Android application.

This is a very big deal.

It's part of a new set of developer tools that Google has put out today, designed to do one thing — run "native" Chrome packaged applications on Android and iOS. Using a new set of scripts and tools built around Apache's Cordova, the toolchain can take your HTML, JavaScript and CSS files currently used to make Chrome apps and wrap them neatly into a package that compiles and runs natively on Android or iOS.

While I'll leave the iOS development to someone more familiar with the platform, I spent the afternoon checking out just what it takes to turn a Chrome app into an Android app. I was surprised to learn that it's not all that much.

Using a few simple commands your existing (or new) Chrome apps can be wrapped into a project that will open in an IDE like Eclipse, or one that will easily build its own apk file with just a few commands at a terminal. These apps can be installed just like any other app, and are even able to be uploaded to Google Play or Apple's App Store.

Things are still a little rough around the edges, and not every API is supported just yet. But this is something that's going to keep growing, simply because it serves Google's best interests. And while it's not the perfect home-grown open solution, it is a fair and easy way for web developers to turn into mobile app developers with a few simple commands.

You can bet everyone will be keeping a watchful eye on this. In the meantime, to get started you can have a look at the overview of the project on GitHub, where you'll find links to everything you need.

Source: Chromium Blog