At its developer conference in May, Google announced plans to open a Chrome Web Store to sell Web apps to users of its Chrome Web browser and its forthcoming Chrome OS.
Google's online store is now accepting apps to sell. In a blog post on Thursday, Google advised developers that they can start uploading Web app metadata to a developer preview of the Chrome Web Store.
Turning a Web site into a Web app that can be sold in the Chrome Web Store is relatively easy. A Web app is simply a Web site with some descriptive data, a .crx file that contains information about app resources and how it functions.
"The idea for a Web Store grew out of an observation that the way the Web works has changed significantly in the past few years," said Google Chrome developer advocate Arne Roomann-Kurrik in a YouTube video. "New standards such as HTML5 give developers more flexibility in the types of experience the Web can provide."
Giving credence to the deliberately provocative thesis that the Web is dead, an argument advanced in a recent Wired article, Roomann-Kurrik observes that "the idea of a Web site as a place to consume text-based content is out of date."
Web sites have moved beyond hypertext to become Web applications that act as real-time e-mail clients, stream music, and render multiplayer games, he argues.
Thus, apparently, finding Web apps the way one finds Web sites -- through a search engine -- has to change too.
Google sees the Chrome Web Store as a way to make the experience of dealing with Web apps more like desktop apps (presumably without the burden of keeping desktop software up-to-date). The Chrome Web Store will make Web apps easier to find, by placing them into an online store unpolluted by Internet information overload, and easier to use, by giving them a special browser tab in which to operate.
It will also make dealing with payment and authentication systems easier, for both users and developers, despite the fact that Web apps can be accessed through their designated URL without any payment to Google.
One of the main benefits of the Chrome Web Store is that it alters the permission process for applications. Whereas iPhone apps, for example, dutifully query users every time they want to access location data, Web apps installed through the Chrome Web Store ask for permission upon installation and retain this setting, which leads to a less disruptive experience.
The Google Chrome Web Store is scheduled to launch in October.
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