Cloud computing is all the rage these days. Google’s ‘everything’s a web app’ outlook has finally taken a hold over the Chrome browser this week with the release of the much-anticipated Chrome Web Store (see our news story by Steve on it).
Comparable to Apple’s App Store and Google’s own Android Marketplace, the Chrome Web Store allows you to install and run Chrome-specific applications within tabs. If you want to try it out for yourself, you’re going to need the latest version of the recently updated Chrome browser for Windows, Linux or Mac.
Web Apps Explained
We love internet-based applications here at MakeUseOf. If you’re an avid reader you’ll probably notice we produce a couple of articles related to these per week, and for good reason. Services like Google Docs and Microsoft Web Apps are web applications that provide functionality on a par with locally installed software. Thanks to browser advancements, these applications are becoming more powerful, varied and genuinely useful.
The Chrome Web Store installs web apps that are specific to the Chrome browser. This doesn’t mean that Chrome is the only browser to support web apps, as I’m sure you’re aware. Google Docs and other similar services function just as well on other browsers.
One advantages of using Chrome is the ability to create shortcuts to these web apps, so they will function and appear much like software you have to install. If you discover an app that you like at any point, simply launch it, click Chrome’s options button, Tools and then Create Application Shortcuts.
The store itself not only allows you to download fabled web apps, but also Chrome Extensions and Themes for the browser. Developers are also able to charge a fee, so don’t be surprised to learn that it’s not all free.
Web apps are separated into 9 different categories, and there is already a decent selection populating each category with plenty of free apps to get you started.
Interestingly if you do decide to download a paid app then you have 30 minutes after purchase to cancel your payment. You can do this once per app, and it offers a nice ‘try before you buy’ element to the store.
Chrome’s ability to synchronize bookmarks to your Google Account has also received an update. Settings, extensions, themes and web apps can now all be kept up to date with your account. This means you can then log in from a different Chrome browser on any platform (Chrome OS included) to see your own familiar setup.
Installing and Removing
Once you’ve found an app, extension or theme that takes your fancy (like the totally awesome TweetDeck, for example) you’ll be able to install it quickly via the Install button on the item’s page. New applications that have been installed can then be launched from any new tab (Ctrl+T).
On the same page you will find some information about what you are installing, including version number, date of the latest update and what (if any) services or local data the application or extension accesses.
Any paid apps that you happen to purchase are handled via Google Checkout, and as previously mentioned have a 30-minute ‘cooling off’ period in case you’re not happy.
To remove an app simply open a new tab and right click the app you wish to remove. Choose Uninstall and it’s gone. You may also have noticed that on this menu you can choose to open web apps as regular tabs, pinned tabs or even full screen.
The Chrome Web Store is an exciting addition to Google’s cloud movement, and a great way to boost productivity online. There’s a decent selection of applications available already, and this number is only set to grow.
If you’re wondering which apps are worth checking out, then keep your eyes peeled for an upcoming article. If you’ve found any web apps that you already can’t live without then why not tell us all about it in the comments.