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Chrome apps gain native powers and desktop launcher on Windows and Chrome OS, Mac, Linux versions to follow

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The line between native and web apps has been blurring more and more with the advent of HTML 5, and now Google's taking things even further with what it's calling a "new breed of Chrome apps." These new apps, while built with web technologies and the Chrome browser, appear and act like native apps. In fact, Google is rolling out a Chrome app launcher for Windows to allow users to launch these new apps directly from their desktop. Windows and Chrome OS users will get first crack at using these apps, with Mac (where it's currently available in the dev channel) and Linux folks getting them a bit later.

To give these apps a native feel, Google has given devs a whole host of new tools. Apps work offline, can save data locally or in the cloud, provide desktop notifications and can connect with any device hooked into your computer via USB or Bluetooth -- meaning games can be designed to use external controllers. And, apps won't look tied to the browser as they won't be saddled with tabs, buttons, text boxes or any other browser-esque visual cues. The idea is to create Chrome apps that are nigh indistinguishable from their locally installed counterparts. For now, there are over 50 such apps available in the Chrome Web Store, with offerings including games, basic photo editing and task tracking apps, among others. However, we have a sneaking suspicion that Google's going to ensure that number grows exponentially in the near future.

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