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Google Goes Big With Chrome Web Store, Chrome OS, Cr-48 Notebook

Google Chrome Event
As if we hadn't already had enough Google news this week -- with Android Gingerbread, eBooks and the Nexus S hitting yesterday -- the Mountain View crew just served up a heaping helping of Chrome news. While updates to the Chrome browser look great, the new Chrome Web Store and Chrome OS led the event. Part of Google's push for an increasingly Web-centric computing experience, these products offer a viable alternative to the desktop-based computing ideas we've grown used to during the past few decades. Read on to get the scoop on today's big news out of San Francisco.

Chrome Web Store

chrome web storeToday, Google launched the Chrome Web Store, a place for developers to share rich Web apps that can be "installed" in the Chrome browser. The Chrome Web store lets content creators offer their apps for free or for a fee, either as a one-time charge or as a subscription-based service, or even as a free trial. Installing a Chrome app puts a quick link to the application on your new tab page, making access to them quick and easy.

Google showed off a few examples from partners like Amazon, the New York Times, Gilt, EA Games, Sports Illustrated and NPR. The apps are built largely in HTML5, which means they can be used on any modern Web browser. Built on HTML 5, these Web apps will work great whether you're using Chrome on your laptop or Safari on an iPad. The New York Times app -- one of the more impressive demos -- looks perfectly at home on a tablet. The app allows offline access to the entire newspaper and supports keyboard shortcuts for easy browsing. Amazon also announced that Kindle for the Web will come to the Web Store early next year, giving you access to your entire Kindle library from any PC with a browser.

Chrome OS

Chrome OS
Perhaps even bigger than the Web Store announcement, though, was the demo of Chrome OS, Google's entirely browser-based operating system. We've covered Chrome OS in some detail previously, so we won't waste too much time covering the details you've already heard about. Logging into a Chrome OS device is tied to your Google account, and automatically syncs your settings from your Chrome browser to the Chrome OS. Your passwords, bookmarks, extensions, etc. are all available from the moment you log in. Chrome OS supports multiple Google accounts, but also features a guest mode that runs Chrome incognito, blocking access to other user data on the machine and erasing all traces of the session once the guest logs out.

Google has also worked hard to make waking from sleep on a Chrome notebook as fast as possible, and they've succeeded admirably. Anyone who is used to waiting for a Mac or Windows PC to resume after suspending will be astonished to see how quickly Chrome comes back to life. Other PCs claim to have "instant on," but Chrome OS is the first we've seen that actually delivers on that promise.

Since Chrome OS is a cloud-based OS, Google has partnered with Verizon to ensure that users can get online whenever they want. All Chrome notebooks will be able to get 100 megabytes of free cellular data from Verizon every month for two years -- no contracts required. Verizon will offer larger monthly data plans or day passes for single-serving mobile access. Thanks to the power of HTML5, some apps will still be available offline (like the New York Times), and soon Google Docs will launch an offline mode. Printing is still a much-needed feature in 2010, and Google's Cloud Print (beta) will allow you to print documents on your printer at home (or any printer you've connected to your Google Account) over the Web.


cr-48While Chrome OS isn't exactly ready for prime time -- consumer Chrome OS devices from Samsung and Acer won't be launching until mid-2011 -- Google will be running a pilot program for early adopters to gather feedback about the operating system on a test platform dubbed Cr-48. The 12.1-inch notebook has no hard drive and can supposedly last eight hours on a single charge. It
packs wireless connectivity via Verizon 3G and 802.11N Wi-Fi. Perhaps most exciting, though, is that the Chrome notebook ditches the Caps Lock button -- something for which many of us have been campaigning for some time.

If you want to apply for the pilot program click here and fill out the form.

Chrome Laptop

Google Chrome Updates

google chromeGoogle also highlighted a few of the big improvements to its Chrome browser, including accelerated Web graphics, new Omnibox (the combined search/URL bar at the top of Chrome), Instant search results and the introduction of a blazing fast, integrated PDF reader that may finally free us from the burden of Adobe Reader. As usual with Chrome, speed was a big focus; the browser's Javascript engine, V8, gets yet another speed boost from a technology called Crankshift. Finally, Chrome Sync is expanding to let you access your passwords, saved form information, bookmarks, extensions and apps from any PC.

Tags: apps, chrome, chrome os, chrome web store, ChromeOs, ChromeWebStore, google, laptops, top, web