Chrome Web Store Goes Live, Chrome OS Netbook Previewed

Today, Google made some big announcements about its popular Chrome browser and the future of its Chrome OS Strategy. Here’s a quick recap.

Chrome Web Store

Google has officially launched its long awaited Chrome Web Store which will allow users to experience games and other popular websites like the New York times in an HTML 5 and web-optimized manner.

Some notable apps showcased were from from Sport Illustrated, EA, and Amazon, which  showed off their Kindle for the Web platform thats sounds exactly like the Google eBook Store (let the Web eBook wars begin).

We look forward to playing with the hottest Web apps and will post a hands-on with the web store shortly.

Chrome OS Previewed, Cr-48 Netbook Unveiled

Google also showed off a preview of its long-awaited Chrome OS, running on a 12.1-inch unbranded netbook known as the Cr-48. The new operating system is, as we knew, nothing more than the Chrome browser in a fast-booting, solid-state, system.

Because Chrome is designed to be always-on and is tied to your Google account, you can set up a new Chrome OS system in under 60 seconds by simply choosing your Internet connection (ethernet, Wi-Fi, 3G), agreeing to the EULA, and putting in your Google account information. You can also, optionally, take a photo of yourself with the webcam that will accompany your login. Once signed-in, all of your preferences from your other Google Chrome enabled computers (your Windows PC, for example) will be automatically loaded into Chrome OS.

Google demonstrated not only how quickly Chrome OS sets up, but also how fast it resumes from sleep. They showed a user lifting the notebook lid and the notebook instantly waking, which is about on-par with the recent MacBook Airs. However, they did not show a cold boot.

Because Chrome is designed to be connected to the Internet at all times, all Chrome OS notebooks will come with Gobi wireless cards and a unique Verizon wireless 3G plan that provides 100MB of free data transfer per month with no contract required. If users need more than 100MB of 3G data, they will be able to buy day passes and other flexible plans to keep them connected.

Chrome OS notebooks will not start shipping until mid-2011 and initial OEMs will be Acer and Samsung, both of whom will use Intel chips (presumably Atom). However, today, journalists and certain users will be able to enter a Google Chrome pilot program where they will receive unbranded Google Chrome OS notebooks that have 12.1-inch screens with webcams, full keyboard, clickable touchpads, 802.11n Wi-Fi, and “enough storage.” There was no word yet the screen resolution or exact amount of storage, RAM, or processors, though Google did say that the devices will have a jailbreak switch to allow hackers to mess with them. If you want to sign up for the pilot program, you can apply here.

OTHER CHROME BROWSER ENHANCEMENTS

Faster JavaScript Rendering Overall

Google pointed out that, when Chrome browser first launched in 2008, its “V8″ JavaScript engine was the fastest on the market and has continued to improve over time. With a new addition code-named “Crankshaft,” the next Chrome will be up to 50-percent faster than today’s chrome and 50-times faster than the Internet Explorer was in 2008.

Instant Search for the Omnibox

One of the innovations and best features of Chrome browser is the Omnibox, which turns the URL bar and search bar into one search field. Not willing to rest on their laurels, they have added the recently released Google Instant feature.

In the next version of Chrome browser, when you type anything into the box, it will automatically load search results as if you were typing into the search box on the Google home page . More interestingly, they have now implemented one letter website page loads for sites you visit most ofen. So, if you visit ESPN a lot, and you type the letter  ”e” into the omnibox, espn.com will automatically load, type in “c” and cnn.com loads, and so on and so on.

PDF Viewer

Tired of using Adobe’s glacial reader plug-in for all your PDF viewing needs? Google agrees, and has decided to create a PDF viewer that is super fast. To demo this speed, they clicked on a PDF of the 1,800 plus page healthcare bill and it loaded almost instantly in Chrome browser.

Hardware Acceleration

Internet Explorer 9 already has hardware acceleration that offloads graphics capability to your system’s video card. The next version of Chrome browser will support WebGL standards that enable rich 3D experiences in the browser. At today’s event Google demoed a web based simulation of 1,000 sharks swimming in a tank with lasers coming out of their eyes.  They also demonstrated a 3D model of a female figure that could be viewed on different anatomic levels: skin tissue, organs, and bone.

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