Google launched the Chrome Web Store last week as they publicly demonstrated the Google Chrome OS, the operating system that takes computing completely into the cloud. While Apple apps are individual programs, Google apps comprise of simple, single-function websites that function within the cloud.
The Chrome OS is basically the Chrome browser, only in this
case the browser runs everything on the computer; word processing, image
browsing, downloading, all done within the browser. To make life easier, apps
from the Web Store (the OS version of the Android Market) replace typical
programs like Microsoft Word with Google variations like Google Docs.
The problem here is that users have to be connected to the web to access any of
their data which is stored on Google servers, and as such Google has access to
all of one’s data – a valuable resource in the data-mining business.
So what’s in store at the Web Store? Check out the next page to find out.
Garnering most praise so far is the New York Times’ app which sets out a clear
matrix of news stories and list of sections that blends minimalist style with
simple functionality, including the new media bells and whistles of email,
Twitter and Facebook sharing along with customisable menus for the discerning
Taking it to the visual edge is Sports Illustrated, mixing grid-like news
updates like the NYT and expanding with full screen images that complement the
visual experience. An app that’ll suit tablet users when Google Chrome OS gets
an official release, Sports Illustrated’s Snapshot bears semblance with image
sites like Flickr and Photobucket, while offering depth of content from simple
images to stats on individual sports at the touch of a box.
The downside of working within the confines of a browser means you can’t
install games as you would on a Mac or PC. Instead, there are a few offerings
of the smartphone and Flash game variety like PopCap’s Plants vs. Zombies. The
popular tower defence-style game is one of PopCap’s most notable titles and
runs completely in the browser (though this can be done on any other browser
Some of the apps have come in a little lazy, like YouTube’s app which links
straight to the original website, rather than a customised version for Chrome.
The layout is still simple though, so fits into the quick and easy ethos of
Chrome as it stands.
Things get creative in the book world, especially with Graphic.ly, “the big,
comfy couch in the middle of your favourite comic store.” The online comic
(eComic?) bookstore capitalises on the steady growth of eBook reader popularity
that has given birth to touchscreen page flipping for the virtual comic
experience in the palm of your hand.
Not to be held back by the lack of utilities offered by the typical browser,
apps to substitute word processors and presentation creators are plentiful, not
solely relying on Google Docs. These include Picnik for photo editing and Sliderocket
for presentations amongst a plethora of other editing, reviewing and content
Stepping back from the apps and taking a look at the Web Store itself reveals a
lack of cohesive categories for apps, making the Store more of a swing-and-hope
ballgame rather than somewhere that users can find exactly what they’re looking
for. While there are App categories like Utilities and Games, the more vague
options include Family and Productivity which overlap on much of the content in
other subcategories. The browsing for apps is simple, but the idea of finding
apps for every process on Google’s Chrome OS might be hard to swallow for some.