If you haven’t been taking Chrome seriously as a practical computing platform, now’s the time to reconsider.
Google has launched Chrome Apps (which is available on the Chrome Web Store), with the aim to work like native desktop apps and function both online and offline. You don’t even have to launch a browser to be able to use these apps. Simply activate the new Chrome Apps Launcher and you’re good to go.
Chrome Apps was initially available only to Windows and Chrome OS, with Google branching out to Mac in December, and with Linux support coming soon. To get you started, here are 10 of the very best Chrome Apps for you to try out and add to your collection.
Want to relax and unwind with some fun puzzle action? Give Entanglement a shot! It’s a beautifully-designed tile puzzle game that challenges players to lay down tiles to generate the longest, most intricate paths possible. It will start out smooth and easy, but as the board fills up and paths criss-cross through tiles, the game will become more and more challenging. It has soothing music and a calming Zen garden background for a relaxing gaming experience.
Looking for more than just a simple text editor? Then this graphical text editor is your best bet. It functions within Chrome while at the same time having full offline functionality. The app provides you with a highly configurable text editing environment with tabbed editing, color-tagged syntax highlighting for various programming languages, key mapping compatibility with Sublime Text, and support for Chrome OS file manager.
The official Chrome app for The Economist offers users a free weekly selection of Editor’s Picks articles, while print and digital subscribers to the magazine has access to the full contents of each week’s issue. They can also download articles for offline reading or listen to the audio version read out by professional broadcasters.
This Chrome app lets you organize, stream, and share videos, movies, and other media stored in your Plex Media Server. Combined with the media server, the app organizes your media, automatically provides descriptions, artwork, and other information. You can stream your media directly to the Chrome app or to your other devices, with advanced features like syncing (available for Plex Pass subscribers). One significant feature that’s not present in the Chrome app is support for Chromecast, which requires you to go through the Web interface to cast.
Until AM for Chrome will turn your desktop or Chromebook into your very own DJ turntable; using song tracks from your playlist, as well as material from SoundCloud. Simply drag and drop songs onto the two virtual turntables and let rip with speed controls, echo, chorus, and vinyl scratching effects that you can combine with ease. Keep the music pumping with tracks from the cloud when you’re online or mix it up with your own tracks offline. You won’t have any problem keeping the party going until AM.
Search engine giant’s very own cross-platform note-taking service, Google Keep, finally gets its own desktop Chrome app. It takes Keep out of the browser tab bar and into your desktop taskbar. Now, you’re only a click away from jotting down post-it style notes, reminders, and quick snippets of text in Keep’s simple and minimalistic desktop app. It also allows you to insert images and lists, set reminders, archive or delete notes, and sync your data across all of your desktop and mobile devices.
Developed by Autodesk, Pixlr Touch Up is a free and lightweight photo editor that covers the basics of tweaking photos before sharing them to your favorite social network or online gallery. The app features crop, resize, rotate, and color and contrast enhancement, as well as some quick colorizing filters. There are Undo and Redo buttons that allow you to take back bad edits, and the app will save the results to either your PC or to Google Drive. It’s not as great as Photoshop, but if you’re only after simple touch ups and tweaking, then Pixlr Touch Up will get the job done.
This Chrome app is both a showcase of Google’s desktop apps, as well as a reliable standalone weather app. It provides users with the latest meteorological information for various regions, interactive maps, extreme weather alerts, as well as Live Weather Cams that provide a webcam view of local conditions from the nearest weather station.
Pocket is a widely used content syncing service that uses a browser extension for you to save articles, videos, and photos online for later offline viewing, which is synced across multiple devices. The app serves as a standalone viewer for all saved content, with an optimized article view, customizable font sizes and backgrounds, tagging, search, archiving, and sharing via Facebook, Twitter, and email.
The popular photo-sharing site, 500px, has extended its reach with its own Chrome app, putting beautiful and stunning photography ranging from landscapes, cute animals, and works of art straight to your desktop. You can view a variety of online galleries filled with popular entries, editor’s picks, as well as newly uploaded pieces. You can also search through the portfolios of other users. From quirky, inspirational, cute, and bizarre, this Chrome app is sure to come up with some interesting photos for you to marvel at.