A glance around the Chrome Web Store

I had a poke around on the chrome web store to see if I could treat my linux netbook to some increased functionality, and to pretend I have one of the Chrome OS CR-48 test netbooks. Unfortunately I haven’t managed to find much of interest so far, or long-term installs, these are a few I did look at.

  • The NYTimes app is quite good and does a good job of bringing a ‘magazine’ feel to the content presentation.
  • Vimeo offer a ‘couch view app’. It consist of two channels. A staff picks and a HD channel where you sort of sit back and let them run. My netbook couldnt handle this.
  • BounceBall’, a little game where you guide a bouncing Chrome logo through a ‘Little Big Planet-esque’ platform type level. Hats off to them if it is using html5 tech – I cant work out if the game is running in canvas and the sound done with flash or if the game is being emulated from flash into canvas? Either way it looks nice and the music is good too.
  • Pixlr Editor, for those who haven’t seen it is an image manipulation web app, installs like a packaged version of the web app. I need to check that this will run offline, I am under the impression that it will.
  • Even though I personally have no real need for it I must check out Tweetdeck which has been getting positive feedback and seems to be the showcase of web store apps.
  • I did have a major issue with Cannabalt HD, the parkour sidescrolling game. The game hung off the edges of my viewport [I’m on a netbook, which maybe a root cause of the problem], the character was invisible and I was then unable to exit fullscreen or the game without closing chrome. 

A lot of people have complained that a lot of the app’s are actually just bookmarks to online services and web apps. I think the distinction is important, some of these things you want or expect to run standalone but currently there is no indication of connectivity required, some people seem to be finding out the hard way. I know that Google finds the distinction small, but I think apps being upfront with the need for connectivity or signup to a service would avoid disappointment being vented in the comments.

An example of this done correctly [only a question of including a manifest file!] is the great ColorBlendy, which allows you to color pick 2 colours and see the resulting overlapping colour between. It has made the step from web app to run as an app offline. Spot on!

I think, like the iTunes app store in the early days, there are a smattering of gems and a lot of experiments, but as more people factor it into their strategy and consider app stores, we should start to see some more considered apps come through.

Update [5th Jan 2011]: I gave Tweetdeck a try out. The interface is nice and feels just like a purpose built app/software. The app itself works offline [in as far as the graphics, resources to display ect.] but your previous tweet data is not retained, so you are left with an app deperately trying to refresh. This is disappointing as I thought apps were going to leverage the offline functionality of html5 – storing your previous tweets and being able to compose new tweets should be no problem.

FYI – Pixlr and Bounceball are also not offline capable.

This article: Web sales are a trickle on the Web Store on TechCrunch, also touches on the distinction needed between apps and bookmarks.