Google has released a substantial update to Chrome apps with a new "For your desktop" feature. First available on Windows and Chromebooks, Chrome apps will no longer feel like they're a web app, carrying a native feel instead, if the developer chooses to access a new set of APIs made available by Google.
The new Chrome apps will rid itself entirely of tabs, buttons, and text boxes, getting rid of any distraction the typical web browser has. There will be offline functionality, Google Drive integration for cloud storage, desktop notifications, support for connected devices using USB or Bluetooth, and sync through your Google ID to pick up where you left off. Apps will feature automatic updating and built-in security features like Sandboxing to protect against phishing and malware.
Google looks to be working towards an app ecosystem like it already has on Android. All of the apps with the new native functionality will be listed in a "For your desktop" part of the Chrome Web Store. A new Chrome App Launcher for Windows has also been introduced. It lives in your Windows taskbar and launches apps into separate windows outside of Chrome - like the desktop apps you've come to know over the years.
Google partnered with a select few app developers for the launch of its new "For your desktop" feature. They include Pixlr Touch Up that lets you touch up, crop, and resize photos from your computer, Wunderlist for task management, and Cracking Sands, a racing game. Now that the API has been opened to developers to integrate the functionality into the apps, more native apps should be added in the coming weeks.
Coincidentally, Google launched the new type of Chrome apps on Google Chrome's fifth birthday, 5 September. The Chrome team says it has plans to bring the functionality to Mac and Linux in the near future.