We all know that Google will be releasing an operating system sometime later this year with Chrome OS. However, what many people haven’t recognized is that the plain old Chrome browser is attaching the same bells and whistles as the operating system. Through a variety of past, present, and upcoming features, Chrome the browser is becoming Chrome, your next operating system.
If we want to trace the origin of “browser-like capabilities,” we can look all the way back to the extensions of the browser. These powerful add-ons increase browser functionality dramatically; however, we wouldn’t say Firefox is a browser, so when did Chrome go beyond this initial stage of bonus features?
The next big leap was with the Chrome Web Store, and its integration into the default “new tab” window for your browser. Having access to a plethora of new apps (yes, El Guopo, a plethora) created an organizational front-end that would support the growing back-end of native app development, HTML, and the cloud. This means users can utilize their web browser to access applications that range from ludicrously absorbing time-wasters to genuinely useful productivity “software.” These applications gave users an opportunity to see what was available, but also provided developers with a financial incentive and distribution medium for their projects.
The Chrome Web Store had a slow start, but it’s now seeing tens of thousands of downloads for its popular applications. Meanwhile, Google has expanded the functionality of its own cloud-based applications. Google Docs has recently added support in its viewer for a wide array of new doc types, not to mention a far better organization system for the user’s files. All apps, both from Google and others, are also getting a boost with the “persistent background app” feature we mentioned last week; users don’t need to have Chrome open to get notifications or data from their apps.
Let’s not stop at the present tense, however. Upcoming versions of Chrome will also be featuring a “sync” that allows users to share their themes, apps, passwords, and bookmarks across all computers that access the same Google account. This is one of the core features of the Chrome OS, and its presence in the Chrome browser shows quite clearly how similar the two platforms are becoming.
[via Tech Crunch]