Google Chrome Web Store: First Impressions

Google today opened their Chrome Web Store for business, providing a hub for paid and free apps for the Chrome browser and OS. Developers have had access to the web store since May but today marks the first time users have had a chance to try out Google's new app marketplace.

Speaking at Google's Chrome event earlier today, product management Vice President Sundar Pichai, said the web store was born of a desire to give small developers a risk-free way of selling their apps. ''People want to get paid for their apps, but they don't want to trust a small, independent developer,'' he said.

Chrome users running the recently released version 8 and higher will be able to install apps from the store and Neowin took Google's new venture for a spin earlier today.

From the second you open the Chrome Web Store, the comparison is obvious - it looks a lot like the App Store, right down to the ''Top Paid'' and ''Staff Picks'' columns. Given the huge success of Apple's store, a little mimicry isn't necessarily a bad thing.

Google showed off a number of apps including an Amazon shopping portal, a New York Times reader and puzzle game Poppit and there appears to be a range of content on offer across categories such as education, lifestyle, and news.

Installing apps from the store is fairly simple, requiring little more than three clicks in most cases once the user has signed in using a Google Account. Installed apps show up as icons in each new tab opened and apps can be run in a new window, in a new tab or full-screen.


Developers are hoping the web store will convince users to part with some of their hard-earned cash and Google appears to have worked hard to make app purchases as seamless as possible.

After adding a payment source to Google's Checkout service, buying apps takes just a few clicks. And in a nice touch, Google provides a 30-minute cancellation window, during which time you can obtain a refund for purchased apps.

Apps on offer use a mix of HTML5 and Flash, and some are able to work offline. Licenses for purchased apps will carry between Chrome installations, but the apps themselves will need to be downloaded for each Chrome install.

Google has claimed the store is only available to US users at the moment, but Neowin was able to purchase and install apps without any problems using an Australian credit card.

For Chrome users - and Google claims around one in three internet users surf via their browser - the web store is a handy, though not vital, addition. The release of Chrome OS, which will tap into the store as the primary way of loading apps, will likely give Google's marketplace offering a much-needed shot in the arm.

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