Google entices Chrome OS developers with prospect of native-like apps

The company doles out Chromebook Pixels at Google I/O, hoping developers will create more apps for Chrome OS

Google handed out Chromebook Pixels to the hundreds of attendees here at Google I/O in San Francisco, a clear indication of the company's high hopes for the lightweight platform. The trick is to convince developers that coding for Chrome OS is worth their time and they aren't just cranking out glorified Web apps.

To that end, Google has used I/O as a forum to showcase apps built on its revamped Packaged App Platform. Packaged apps are written in HTML5, JavaScript, and CSS, delivering a native-app-like experience, whether or not a user has a reliable Internet connection. Chrome Packaged Apps aren't tied to a browser with the address bar, tab strip, and other browser interface elements; developers can create them to look like any standard native app.

Under the hood, packaged app pages always load locally, meaning they are less dependent on the network. In turn, they can launch offline, but developers need to make sure data is stored locally without an Internet connection, then synced back up to the data server once online.

One of the more interesting packaged apps on display at I/O is Magisto, a video-editing app with which users can turn their uploaded videos into movies, complete with music and special effects. The application is capable of analyzing footage and stiching it together automatically, and users can process very large videos, regardless of whether they are offline or online. Magisto also integrates with Google+ Sign-In App activities, meaning users can download the mobile app to their Android devices with one click via the Web.

Google entices Chrome OS developers with prospect of native-like apps

That cross-platform capability is essential to the success of Chome OS, according to Magisto CEO Oren Boiman. "People are looking for quality over quantity at this point. Quality as in apps that work as well as traditional software, but with the flexibility and ease of cross platform use -- movement across native applications, mobile, and the traditional Web," he said.

Google also has shared dozens of other sample packaged apps, running the gamut from a simple calculator to a tool for browsing mDNS services on a local network to a miniature code editor.

Beyond showcasing existing Packaged Apps for Chrome, Google hosted a session at I/O to show Web developers how to transform their existing Web apps into packaged ones.

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