Chrome recently launched its new Web Store. Many of the apps included are, to the typical end user, little more than an icon for launching websites already known and loved. A few, however, give Chrome users access to something that more closely resembles iPad apps than traditional websites.
It’s these web apps that show clearly what the Chrome Web Store could become, and the direction of the web in general and Chrome OS specifically. If you want a look at that future, here it is.
If you’re less high minded than that, though, and just want to play with some cool new technology, you’re still in the right place. Below are just a few apps that I think bring something new to the web; a few even work without Chrome itself.
There were two main newspaper apps on the web store’s launch day: The New York Times and USA Today. Both apps are similar to their iPad counterparts, and both support offline reading.
The New York Times app is my favorite, but that’s mostly because I prefer their content to USA Today. In many ways it’s simply a faster version of the Adobe Air based Times Reader, but without the Adobe Air’s crappiness or the paywall. Launch the app and articles are presented to you:
The real beauty of this app is the keyboard shortcuts. The arrow keys behave exactly as you’d expect them to, allowing you to “turn the page” quickly, as well as to browse the articles. Check out the NY Times app for Chrome here.
The USA Today app is similar, albeit with a more feature-filled home page:
The addition of weather and sports scores is a very nice touch, particularly because you can customize both. For example, in the above screenshot the scores are from my sport of choice: ice hockey. Great perk, and very well presented app. Check out the USA Today app for Chrome here.
Remember The Weather Channel? Me neither. The web is simply the best way to stay up-to-date about the weather, and Chrome’s webstore had two great apps for seeing it at launch. As you know, Wunderground is the best weather site on the web. Well, they’ve got a Chrome app now:
As you can see, there’s not much here. Just a pretty picture reflecting the area you life in and a little bit of information. Check out the Wunderground App for Google Chrome.
If you want a little more detail, I recommend WeatherBug’s offering. Sporting a similar “pretty picture” interface, this app gives you one-click access to forecasts and maps, making it a little more useful than Wunderground’s offering:
Oh TweetDeck. Such a great program, but based on the always-slow Adobe Air.
TweetDeck is a great tool for managing multiple Twitter/Facebook/Buzz/Foursquare accounts, and it works beautifully in Google Chrome. Launching in seconds and combining your social networks, this new app just might be the highlight of the Chrome store’s launch. Check out the TweetDeck app for Google Chrome here.
I like this one because it’s simple, and shows what Chrome Apps can do. Write Space is a minimalistic text editor, similar to FocusWriter. It runs in the browser, but stores no information on any server; everything is contained within Chrome. Here you can write something, close the tab, and find it back later.
There’s really not much else to this, but it’s a good example of how desktop applications might work on Chrome OS. Check out Write Space on Google Chrome.
I could go on and on, of course, but that would take a long time. The point is, these apps are cool and point to the sort of future Google imagines the world of computing heading in. In many ways I’m reminded of Jolicloud, the web-centric OS for netbooks.