It's all coming together, folks. It doesn't take much of a gander at the Chrome Web Store to notice a trend: some of the flashiest, most mature "apps" are actually just in-browser versions of iPad apps. And you know what else? Most of these "apps" actually run fine in Safari on the iPad. We're not sure how long Google gave developers to port their experiences over, but it seems like most of the best work had already been done in the form of HTML5 apps that were merely wrapped in app form for App Store delivery. Google's just taking things to the next logical step. Continue after the break as we expand this thesis paragraph into a number of supporting blocks of text, a few jazzy pictorial examples, and a stunning closer.

Interestingly, Google's move actually gives some teeth to statements from Apple about HTML5 being a fully supported "completely open, uncontrolled platform," a response to criticisms about the locked-down nature of the App Store. It also could end up vindicating RIM's "you don't need an app for the web" stance as well, although that theory leans on Flash a bit more heavily. Indeed, the fault line comes down to Flash once again: the main Chrome apps that don't work on the iPad are ones that use Flash or rely on a keyboard. This won't be a hurdle for the PlayBook, or a theoretical Chrome OS tablet or Android tablet,

Oh, and speaking of Android tablets: we tested out some of these more HTML5-intense Chrome web apps (like the finger-friendly New York Times viewer) on the Galaxy Tab and didn't have much luck. Google itself said it wasn't fully supporting all of this functionality in Android yet, or even on the Google TV's Chrome-lite browser, but hopefully that's only a temporary problem.

Here are a few examples of standout Chrome Web Apps and their stats:

Utilities

Amazon Windowshop
Underlying tech: Flash
Compatibility: Chrome, iPad (app), Galaxy Tab (web)
Offline: No

Flixster
Underlying tech: HTML5
Compatibility: Chrome, iPad (app, almost web), Galaxy Tab (phone app, almost web)
Offline: No
Notes: The iPad and Galaxy tab seemed to load Flixster's UI just fine, but none of the movies in the main content pane would show up when we selected them.

TweetDeck
Underlying tech: HTML5
Compatibility: Chrome, iPad (app), Galaxy Tab (phone app)
Offline: No

Music

MOG
Underlying tech: HTML5, Flash
Compatibility: Chrome, iPad (phone app), Galaxy Tab (phone app)
Offline: No

Grooveshark
Underlying tech: HTML5, Flash
Compatibility: Chrome, Galaxy Tab (web)
Offline: No
Notes: It's super slow on the Tab, but it works.

News

Huffington Post
Underlying tech: HTML5
Compatibility: Chrome, iPad (different app, almost web), Galaxy Tab (phone app, almost web)
Offline: No
Notes: Similar to the Flixster problem, the page loads on the iPad and Galaxy Tab, but none of the content shows up.

Salon
Underlying tech: HTML5
Compatibility: Chrome, iPad (almost web)
Offline: Yes
Notes: Everything looks great on the iPad, but you can't scroll the articles, so it's essentially useless.

NY Times
Underlying tech: HTML5
Compatibility: Chrome, iPad (app, web), Galaxy Tab (phone app)
Offline: Yes

USA Today
Underlying tech: HTML5
Compatibility: Chrome, iPad (app, web), Galaxy Tab (phone app)
Offline: Yes

NPR
Underlying tech: HTML5, Flash
Compatibility: Chrome, iPad (app, almost web), Galaxy Tab (phone app, full web)
Offline: No
Notes: The site loads perfectly on the iPad, but the audio doesn't work because it's Flash-based.

Right now one of the biggest problems we see with these apps, as opposed to their boring non-HTML5 website counterparts and native application competition, is the somewhat sluggish performance we've witnessed on the iPad, including in their actual App Store "native" app incarnations, and on the underpowered Cr-48 hardware. Hopefully this is something that WebKit engineers are hard at work at improving, and we have to say that a touch of hardware acceleration wouldn't hurt. And, of course, this doesn't even touch on the fact that the functionality on display so far doesn't quite match the power of many native iOS and Android applications.

It's also worth remembering that Apple actually tried and failed miserably to rely on web apps when it launched the iPhone initially, and while we've come a long way in browser power, UI innovation, and mobile chipsets, it's possible that tech still isn't mature to make web apps a compelling alternative to native apps -- or at least not mature enough to be an OS's primary crutch.

Over time we'll be curious to see how closely applications adhere to strict HTML5 and iPad-compatible, touch-capable UIs, or if the freedom of Flash and power of the keyboard / mouse tag team will make this rash of early synergy merely a beautiful anomaly. Is HTML5 the undisputed "future of the web"? Can it be the future of apps as well?

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