An Early Look At Google Chrome Web-Apps

chrome-webapps

It’s no secret that I’m a fan of Googles Chrome browser. Which is why I followed Google’s instructions on enabling web-apps in the newest dev builds of Chrome. Here’s what I found out:

  • Making a Chrome web-app is as simple bundling a  few icons with a URL in a .js file. Which incidentally is also how you build Chrome extensions.
  • The bundling of icons with the .crx web-app bundle solves the problem of small 16×16 favicons doubling as launch icons. This is clearly more elegant than the stylized 8-bit converted favicon approach Mozilla experimented with for Prism back in the day.
  • One immediate benefit of using Chrome web-apps is that once you’ve clicked “Install” on a web-app, you’ve automatically given it all the permissions it needs, such as access to notifications, geolocation and local storage.
  • Installed web-apps show up on your new tab page. As seen above.
  • When you open a web-app, it shows up as something other than a pinned tab. The design argument is for it to look distinct from your tabs, which you’re likely to have a lot of.
  • When you click a web-app tab, the entire addressbar including navigation buttons and even the extension shelf, are hidden, maximizing the available real-estate.

For those worrying about Chrome web-apps not being “open”, it’s worth noting that as of this version of Chrome, all a web-app consists of is a URL. Just look at this code sample:

{
  "name": "Gmail",
  "version": "3",
  "icons": { "24": "24.png", "128": "128.png" },
  "launch": {
    "web_url": "https://mail.google.com/"
  },
  "permissions": ["notifications"],
  "web_content": {
    "enabled": true,
    "origin": "https://mail.google.com/"
  }
}

This is still a very early look at Chrome web-apps, but I can see it working, if nothing else then for the fact that it’s so easy to create a Chrome web-app. So yeah, it may just be a super-bookmark, but it’s so convenient. Imagine a Twitter for Chrome web-app. You click “Install”, and it’s there on your browsers new tab page, synced to your Google account, and it’s got geolocation and notification permissions without any extra clicks.

3 thoughts on “An Early Look At Google Chrome Web-Apps”

  1. Pilad says:

    Hi. I’m using Ubuntu lucid. In my Chrome dev browser, tabs are shown as pinned tabs and not as web apps. As explained here http://code.google.com/intl/it-IT/chrome/apps/docs/index.html chrome tabs are special to user not to browsers… but, what does it mean? Is there a way to became a user? I would really like to have real web apps tabs, and not only pinned tabs.

    1. Joen says:

      Is there a way to became a user? I would really like to have real web apps tabs, and not only pinned tabs.

      It’s too early. That’s why you don’t have any “web-apps”. It requires a lot of tinkering and messing with files to get to work, and even then it’s only a preview. So unless you’re really a hacker, you can’t get web-apps to work yet.

  2. An Early Look At Google Chrome Web-Apps: http://noscope.com/?p=6518

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