Review: Google Chrome wants to be your OS
The assortment of Chrome apps you'll find in the Web Store is not quite what you might expect. I thought I'd mostly find productivity apps, especially ones that use Google infrastructure. I did find those, but I also found plenty of image editing apps, music playing apps, news and weather apps, and games. I also found numerous office applications and utilities, including several remote desktop apps. The latter are suddenly even more interesting now that Google and VMware have teamed up to make Windows VMs available for Chromebook users.
There is also a good assortment of business applications in Chrome App form, many of which are also available as Web apps. Examples include QuickBooks, Zoho CRM, Staff Squared HR, SEO SERP Workbench, Clever Elements, and Salesforce.
I expected Chrome apps to be slow to load and run, but I was wrong. The ones I have used load faster than many native applications and run nearly as quickly. Chrome apps tend to be smaller and more focused than many native applications, but that isn't necessarily bad.
The app has an event page that runs in the background and handles user gestures and system events. The Chrome Content Security Policy enforces stronger security than you'll typically find in a Web application, and it provides the ability to set up privilege separation on a per-window basis. Sandboxing for Chrome apps is even stronger than sandboxing for Chrome extension processes.
Services available to Chrome apps include push messaging, several different storage APIs, drag and drop, and access to Google Drive. Chrome apps can use USB, Bluetooth, and serial devices, and they can act as network clients. A developer can use Native Client (C/C++) code in Chrome apps but should structure the package hierarchy to reduce the size of the user download.
Best among browsers
Recently, Chrome has been blowing all other browsers away in almost every conceivable speed test. (The most recent public results I can find are here.) I say "almost" because Microsoft has posted some tests in which the latest version of IE beats all comers. I have seen accusations that the Microsoft test site is rigged, but I haven't investigated them. In any case, those Microsoft test results don't correspond to my real-life experience.
On a Mac (above), the new Chrome "For your desktop" apps live in a launcher in the Dock. When expanded, the Chrome App Launcher has room for 16 app icons per page. You can easily drag and drop icons from page to page in roughly the same way as you would with Android screens. On Windows 8.x with the Metro aka Modern aka Windows Store interface (below), Chrome Apps appear on the same Modern "desktop" as Chrome itself. Note that you have to allow Chrome to be the default browser on Windows 8.x to enable its Modern interface version.