Google Debuts Chrome Apps

Just yesterday, we briefly touched on the trend towards convergence of devices, screens, and services. There have been hints from Google indicating that they were setting the stage to do just that for months. Today, Google gave us another big hint by launching Chrome Apps, native/web hybrid apps available for Chrome OS and Windows.

These packaged apps are web apps with access to some native hardware features. But they aren’t entirely new. Consumers have been able to get web apps, extensions, and themes from the Chrome Web Store for some time now, but the apps ran inside the browser. The difference now is that the new Chrome Apps take the experience out of the browser and onto the desktop. The apps function and behave near-native but are written with web technologies, like HTML5, Javascript, and CSS.

Here’s what you can do with the new Chrome Apps.
From Google Chrome Blog

  • Work offline: Keep working or playing, even when you don’t have an internet connection.
  • More app, less Chrome: No tabs, buttons or text boxes mean you can get into the app without being distracted by the rest of the web.
  • Connect to the cloud: Access and save the documents, photos and videos on your hard drive as well as on Google Drive and other web services.
  • Stay up-to-speed: With desktop notifications, you can get reminders, updates and even take action, right from the notification center.
  • Play nice with your connected devices: Interact with your USB, Bluetooth and other devices connected to your desktop, including digital cameras.
  • Keep updated automatically: Apps update silently, so you always get all the latest features and security fixes (unless permissions change).
  • Pick up where you left off: Chrome syncs your apps to any desktop device you sign in to, so you can keep working.
  • Sleep easier: Chrome apps take advantage of Chrome’s built-in security features such as Sandboxing. They also auto-update to make sure you have all the latest security fixes. No extra software (or worrying) required.
  • Launch apps directly from your desktop: To make it quicker and easier to get to your favorite apps, we’re also introducing the Chrome App Launcher for Windows, which will appear when you install your first new Chrome App. It lives in your taskbar and launches your apps into their own windows, outside of Chrome, just like your desktop apps. Have lots of apps? Navigate to your favorite apps using the search box.

It’s not hard to see why developers are excited. Chrome Apps lower the barrier to entry by promising near-native experiences with free and standardized web technologies. But if you’re thinking of going mobile with this, slow down, tiger. Chrome Apps are not yet available for mobile, nor is it available for OSX or Linux. The company says it will launch on the latter two soon.

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