Is it me, or is it getting harder and harder to escape Chrome OS? Earlier this month, Google revamped the Chrome browser's Windows 8 mode to make it just like Chrome OS. Now, Google has released tools that will allow developers to port their Chrome OS apps to Android and iOS devices.
The tools, which are based on the Apache Cordova APIs, aren't quite ready for prime time yet—Google calls them an "early developer preview." Still, they seem reasonably full-featured:
The toolchain wraps your Chrome App with a native application shell and enables you to distribute your app via Google Play and the Apple App Store. We provide a simple developer workflow for packaging a Chrome App natively for mobile platforms. You can run your Chrome App on a device or emulator using the command-line or an IDE. Alternatively, you can use the Chrome Apps Developer Tool to run your app on an Android device without the need to install an IDE or the mobile platform's SDK.
Google has posted a number of sample apps, which include a calculator and a notifications app that can "show feature-rich notifications in the system tray." Some documentation and instructions can be perused here, as well.
You know, I kind of expected that Google would slowly kill Chrome OS in favor of Android years ago—but that's clearly not happening. Perhaps Chromebooks are just selling too well. According to NPD, Chromebooks accounted for 21% of notebook sales in the U.S. channel through most of 2013. If those numbers are legit, then Chrome OS may well be here to stay.