Google has launched the Chrome Web Store, which allows users to download apps and games to extend the functionality of the increasingly popular Chrome web browser.
The Chrome Web Store currently consists of a range of app types spanning communications, education, games, lifestyle, news, productivity and utilities. To install them, users simply visit the Chrome Web Store homepage (make sure you're logged in to your Google account), click a category, click an app icon, hit the install button, then click the icon to launch.
The experience of using Chrome Web apps is surprisingly good. Each is created using Flash technology, so the functionality isn't exactly revolutionary, but all the apps we've tested so far run perfectly smoothly and look exceptional -- particularly in full-screen mode.
Games look especially delicious when running in full screen, and -- if you're using Chrome 9 -- can be made even smoother thanks to hardware acceleration from your graphics card.
There are several annoyances, though. Many games are of a poor standard. Some, such as Tiger Woods PGA Tour Online, require the installation of additional software and many aren't actually Chrome Web Store apps -- they're just links to Flash games that will run run in any browser that supports Flash.
The Chrome Web store is also a hub for Chrome extensions. The line between extensions and apps is a little fuzzy, but extensions generally work as bolt-ons that extend the functionality of the browser rather than transforming its use entirely. An extension, for example, might add one small piece of functionality to the browser, such as a way of letting you check email without having to manually log into Gmail. An app, in contrast, more closely mirrors a full application you might download or buy in a store.
Those wishing to personalise the Chrome browser should also get a kick out of the Chrome Web store. It's a repository for themes, which allow users to customise the look and feel of the browser, changing the wallpapers, title bars designs and borders to help you stand out from the crowd.
The Chrome Web Store is available to use right now. Head on over to chrome.google.com/webstore to give it a go.