Chrome packaged apps pave way for future of browser-based computing

Pocket for Chrome

Back in 2010 I randomly received a Google ChromeOS CR-48 Notebook (aka Chromebook). I reviewed the notebook and its OS and determined it was still far away from wide adoption.

[ChromeOS] will require extreme maturation before becoming a viable alternative.

Some of its biggest problems included the inability to layer or cascade windows, and it’s always connected requirement. For most users, it’s desirable for their apps to be self-contained. It’s also essential – at least from a practical standpoint – to be able to work offline.

A lot has changed since the Chromebook pilot program. Since then, Google has released a high-end laptop called Chromebook Pixel. It comes packed with a high resolution screen that’s also touch enabled, but as we all know it’s the OS that matters the most. They’ve updated it to include a dock-like bar for pinning apps, and they now support multiple windows so you can view different windows side-by-side.

Multiple Windows on ChromeOS

However, the most important development has come from self-contained packaged apps that support offline usage. Pocket and Wunderlist – two apps I use often – are the first developers to plunge head on into this brave new OS world.

After you install either the Pocket or Wunderlist app for Chrome, it opens in its own self-contained window (think Fluid). The beauty of it is that it saves your data locally (aka offline). This is a huge step forward for ChromeOS.

It reminds me of the early days of Apple’s OS X. The biggest deterrent from switching from Windows was the lack of essential apps that could run on it. It took me until either version 10.1 or 10.2 before I was able to fully make the switch. It’s only a matter of time until powerful photo editing and productivity apps are packaged for offline use for ChromeOS. Once that happens, ChromeOS may actually stand a chance and potentially pull me away from Apple’s stronghold.