Thanks in large part to the raging success of the Apple App Store, application marketplaces are an integral part of every mobile platform these days. But an app store announced by Google Wednesday at its annual developer conference adds a new twist to the model. Launching later this year, Google's Chrome Web Store will offer up online applications through its browser and forthcoming operating system.
"We believe it should be easier for users to discover Web apps and for developers to reach a large audience," said Erik Kay, lead software engineer at Google, on the company's Chromium Blog.
Mozilla has made its plans public for Firefox 4, the next major upgrade of its open-source Web browser, and it looks like we may see an official launch before the end of the year.
Mike Beltzner, Mozilla's director of Firefox, posted a short blog on the product plans Monday afternoon and linked to an extensive presentation he gave about its next-generation browser, which Mozilla expects to be "super-duper fast," he said.
Steve Jobs doesn't like Flash, and his feud with Adobe has made more than a few recent headlines. Given that he's also no fan of Google these days, it's probably fitting that the search giant is integrating the Flash plug-in directly into its Chrome browser.
As Jobs will reportedly tell anyone willing to listen, Flash is a memory hog, it crashes browsers, and it has security issues. Apple's chief is throwing his weight behind HTML 5, and his refusal to support Flash on the iPad may or may not open the door for a tablet competitor like HP's forthcoming Slate, which will run the Adobe software.
Google has quietly pulled the plug on its browser plug-in, Gears, that enables offline use of Web-based services like Gmail and Google Docs. In a post on its Gears API Blog Friday, entitled Hello HTML5Ian Fette, of Google's Gears team, acknowledged that the company has shifted its effort away from new releases of Gears and towards bringing those offline capabilities to Web standards like HTML5.
"We're not there yet, but we are getting closer," he wrote, detailing that the latest release of Google's Chrome browser natively supports a database API similar to those in Gears and new APIs like Local Storage and Web Sockets. He promised other facets of Gears, such as the LocalServer API and Geolocation, will be incorporated into new standards and included in Chrome shortly.
Google made big headlines last month with the launch of the Nexus One smartphone and its adventures in China. But the steady growth of its Chrome Web browser may turn out to be an equally important story, particularly with its browser-based Chrome OS on the way.
In January, Chrome climbed to 5.2 percent of the global browser market, up from 4.6 percent in December, according to Web metrics company NetApplications. Meanwhile, Microsoft's Internet Explorer fell from 62.7 percent to 62.2 percent of the market, and Mozilla saw Firefox slip from 24.6 percent to 24.4 percent.
Don't look now, but Google has a distribution deal with Sony for its one-year-old Web browser.
Neither Google nor Sony has officially announced the deal, which probably helped make the initial flurry of reports yesterday a little confusing. Bloomberg said that Sony will package "some personal computers" with the browser, while a Google spokesperson told Reuters that the agreement had been in effect since the summer.