What are Google Chrome Apps?

Web-based applications are programmes that are designed to be used entirely within the browser. Using apps, you can do things like create documents, edit photos and listen to music without having to install complicated software.

These days, websites are capable of dynamic functionality that you expect from desktop applications on your computer. We call these robust sites web apps, or “apps”, for short. If you use services like Gmail or Google Maps, you’re already using apps! Apps have the following advantages over desktop applications:

  • Apps are installed in seconds with one click of a button. You don’t even have to restart your browser or computer.
  • Your apps are always available. No matter what computer you’re using, you can always access your apps. Learn about syncing apps across multiple computers.
  • Apps are always up to date. Because apps are hosted on the web where they can be updated instantly, you can be sure that you’re always using the latest version of the app that’s available.
  • Apps won’t crash your computer. If one app misbehaves, just close its tab in the browser. Your browser and computer won’t be affected.

How are apps different from websites?

Some apps are hosted online like normal websites. Therefore, some app icons on your New Tab page may simply take you to their corresponding websites (e.g. see the Gmail app).

Other apps are websites that have been specifically developed for use within Google Chrome and may contain features that are not found on their usual websites (e.g. see The New York Times app).

Last, but not least, some apps rely on certain Google Chrome features and therefore can only be used within Google Chrome (e.g. see the Scratchpad app).

Benefits to installing apps in Google Chrome

You can use apps that are hosted online in any browser that supports modern web technologies. But there are certain advantages to installing them in Google Chrome:

Get app icons. When you install an app from the store in Google Chrome, its icon gets added to the New Tab page, so you can easily find and open the app.

Choose how an app should open. You can set an app always to open in a normal tab, in a pinned tab or in full-screen mode. Simply right-click the app icon on the New Tab page and choose a setting.
Access your apps on any computer. Use Google Chrome’s sync feature to save your apps to your Google Account. That way, you can see your list of apps no matter what computer you’re using.

Visit the Chrome Web Store at http://chrome.google.com/webstore to explore available apps. Take a look at the featured apps section. Once you find something you like, install it to try it out.

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