This week Google launched the Chrome Web Store an online portal offering apps extensions and themes for Google’s Chrome browser. At this point commercial apps are only officially for sale in the United States but if you have a credit card and a Google Checkout account you can in fact buy apps using the .com domain in Australia.
A Google spokesperson told APC that a .com.au launch is expected in the future which will mean Australian developers can get paid for selling apps they make (currently this is US-only). In any case free apps (of which there are already bucketloads) are available right now for everyone. All you need to get started is the Chrome browser and installing apps is a simple one-click affair.
If the first thing that pops into your head is a sense of “Haven’t we been here before?” (a la Firefox Add-ons) guess again. Whereas Firefox Add-ons are really a bevy of functionality extensions Chrome apps are more like smartphone apps covering entertainment games productivity lifestyle news and so on.
The first thing you notice when running Chrome apps is a slight disembodied feeling – in a lot of cases the app isn’t really “installed” on your PC in the traditional sense. Rather it it’s more a case that you’ve simply bookmarked or channelled a web site (and the software is actually running somewhere else) but we guess that’s to be expected of what is very much a cloud app platform. It’s a pretty big adjustment for the user though – and a sneak preview of what the overall software experience of Chrome OS will be when it hits next year.
In any case there’s a lot of fun and usefulness on offer here and with hundred of apps already available it seems Google has certainly got the jump on Apple’s own imminent App Store plans for Mac OS X. Here are ten apps worth taking a gander at – all free right now for Chrome.
1. Plants vs Zombies – trial version
If you haven’t played Plants vs Zombies now is the time. Horticulture has never been so vital.
2. Write Space
Distraction-free writing pure and simple with a few nice customisation features and the ability to work in a self-contained offline mode.
3. wikiHow Survival Kit
Keen survival tips ranging from the mundane (changing a tyre) to the Indiana Jones-esque (landing a plane defending against a bear attack etc.).
4. Ajax Animator
Web-based animation suite: bring out your inner Matt Groening.
The New York Times as optimised for Chrome – with text-only reading capabilities for when you’re offline.
Integrating the integrator: TweetDeck for Chrome puts Facebook Twitter Buzz and Foursquare all under one browser hood.
7. Sports Illustrated Snapshot
If you like US sports (or ahem swimsuits) this spectacular photo channel has you sorted.
8. Evernote Web
Evernote continues its ubiquitous idea-jotting rollout into the Chrome Web Store.
9. Graphic.ly Comics
Not everyone wants to get their comic fix on their PC but you can’t fault Graphic.ly’s range of titles.
10. Picnik Photo Editor
Who needs Photoshop? Oh that’s right professionals. But for most folk Picnik neatly suffices.