Google Chrome app launcher being retired as company tries to 'streamline' its browser

Support for the app launcher will slowly be removed on Windows, Mac and Linux over the next few months

Google is killing off the Chrome app launcher, a little-used feature of Chrome which allows users to access certain apps from outside the browser.

The app launcher, which users can access from their desktop or taskbar, blurs the lines between browser and computer by letting you open apps like Google Drive, Gmail and Spotify without having to go to the browser first.

It essentially added a bit of Chrome OS to other platforms, but Google has now learned that people prefer accessing browser apps from inside a browser.

Writing on the browser's blog, Google's engineering director Marc Pawliger said: "With Chrome's continued emphasis on simplicity and streamlining browser features, the launcher will be removed from [Windows, Mac and Linux.]"

The retiring process will take a number of months. In a few weeks' time, Chrome will no longer enable the launcher when new users first install an app. After that, existing users of the launcher will be notified that it's disappearing, and it'll finally be removed from computers in July.

A launcher-esque screen will still be available from the 'Apps' shortcut in the Chrome bookmarks bar, and obviously it won't be removed from Chrome OS devices since it's a vital part of the system.

Chrome has a number of rarely-used and sometimes useful features, but its detractors have claimed that they make the browser seem bloated. 

The company has removed a few features like the notification centre in the past, so don't be surprised if they continue trimming the fat in other areas later on.

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