Google Chrome Three Web App Types: Native App, Chrome Page, Bookmark

I’ve been following the development of Google’s Chrome OS and Chrome web browser apps under the assumption that Chrome OS based netbooks might gain traction when they become available sometime in 2011. So far, it looks like there are three kinds of Chrome apps. So, let’s identify them and provide each a label for further discussion.

The first was the subject of some criticism. These are the so-called apps in Google’s chrome web store are nothing more than bookmarks to existing web based services like Google Docs. The app’s icon in the Chrome browser simply directs you to the website you already know and use. So, let’s call these Bookmarked Apps.

There are, however, Chrome web apps that look and feel more like a native app you might find designed for Windows, OS X, or Linux. An example of this kind of Native App is the WeatherBug weather app. This Chrome web app is an 8 megabyte download which results in a URL-less (no text in the address bar) app that looks and feels like a natively installed app (which it is from Chrome’s point of view). I’m very impressed by WeatherBug’s Chrome web app.

The third kind of Chrome web app are web pages that look and feel like iPad apps and discussed in this Engadget article.

Chrome Web Store, HTML5 and the iPad: symbiosis at its best

Let’s call this kind of app a Chrome Page App. Although this app looks like a native app, there is no significant code download, and there is a URL pointed to in the address bar. What sets this kind of app apart from the Bookmarked App type is that it only works in the Chrome browser. A good example of this kind of app is the NPR app for Chrome seen in the screen shot above.

It is noteable that pointing the Firefox browser at this app’s URL (http://www.npr.org/webapp) results in an error (seen to the left). Unlike, say, Google Docs, the NPR Chrome web app page only works with the Chrome browser.