Stephen Lam, Getty ImagesGoogle is making big improvements to its Chrome operating system to make it function a lot more like a regular PC.
Google has just taken a small step with something called "packaged apps" that could have big implications.
Google Chrome is a cloud-only device. It doesn't store all of its software on a hard drive like a Windows PC or a Mac. Instead, everything is pretty much accessed through a browser over the Internet. That's great when you have Internet access, not so good when you don't.
Packaged Apps are different because they still work when the Internet goes down. They've been fairly experimental. Google asked developers to build some a few months ago and since them, developers have been experimenting and uploading some to the developer-only section of the Chrome Web Store.
But the only way to find those apps was to have an exact URL web address.
Today, Google announced that it was making those apps visible on its Web store under a new tab called "Apps." Apps that can't run locally will be found under a new category, called “Websites.”
Right now, only people using the developer version of the Web Store can see the new "Apps" and "Websites" tabs, because Google feels that many packaged apps are still "works in progress," according to a blog posted by Web store product manager Amanda Bishop.
But the new tabs should become visible to everyone else soon.
If Google can create a wide selection of Packaged Apps, it helps Chrome OS compete with Microsoft Windows. Chromebooks start at $249. The high-end Chromebook, called Pixel introduced in February starts at $1,299. While reviewers loved its hardware, the lack of software for the price was a big complaint.
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