Chrome has turned 5 and Google is now bringing Chrome apps to more places. What began as apps which could run only in the Chrome browser spread to the Chrome OS. The Chrome team has now announced that is bringing the same breed of apps to the desktop.
Erik Kay, Engineering Director and Chrome App-ologist wrote in a blogpost,
Think apps designed for your desktop or laptop, just like the ones for your phone and tablet. These apps are more powerful than before, and can help you get work done, play games in full-screen and create cool content all from the web.
While these apps are now available for Windows and Chromebook, they will be coming to the Mac and Linux operating systems soon.
The new apps work offline and have removed the tab buttons and text boxes in Chrome so that you get more screen estate for the apps. The apps also have desktop notifications and can connect with connected devices including cameras via USB and Bluetooth. The apps update automatically, so that you are always up to date with the latest features.
There is a sync feature which syncs your apps to any desktop device you sign in to.
By far the best feature of the new apps is that it gets a new launcher which allows you to launch apps directly from the desktop. No need to open Chrome to find the app.
When we checked the Chrome store for desktop apps, the collection seems to be very limited at present. There are just under 30 apps. There are apps for Google Keep, Wunderlist, Plex, The Economist, 500px and Pocket.
We did try the Keep and Pocket apps and have to say that the experience is quite good. The launcher is fantastic and also has a search feature in case you have a lot of apps. The Launcher also pulls any Chrome apps you already have installed in your browser and sets them up as shortcuts.
Growing Chrome OS into a Full Fledged Operating System
The move by Google to bring Chrome apps to the desktop can be seen as a first step to building the browser as an alternative to existing desktop operating systems like Windows and OS X.
The apps perform very similar to native applications already present on the desktop. Some day Google hopes these lines will completely blur out. Google hopes that you will use the Chrome App Launcher more than the Start button on your person computer.
While the apps are limited right now it does show the potential of the platform. Apps like Pixlr Touch Up allow users to do basic photo editing. While apps like Pocket and Keep show the power of cloud sync. The ability for the apps to push notifications makes this an even more powerful platform.
Google is hoping that since Chrome is the most popular browser on the web developers will develop Chrome Desktop apps.
Convincing developers is just one part of the story. Google is going to have to get out more power apps like Photoshop if it ever really wants to take over the desktop.