I expect we’ll hear much more about Chrome OS apps next week at the Google I/O developer event. Some developers aren’t waiting to move forward with apps for Chrome OS, however, and that’s a good thing. Although it had humble beginnings as a browser-based interface on a prototype laptop in 2010, Google’s Chrome OS is poised to expand beyond the browser with true apps of its own.
Take this game in the Chrome Web Store, for example. It’s called Cracking Sands Racing and comes from Polarbit, which has already released the game for iOS and Android. That tells me it’s basically a port of the mobile version. Plus the 533 MB download and offline support verify this is an app; not a game that’s being powered by the cloud. Here’s a video of the gameplay, which is exactly what the game looks like on my Pixel:
I downloaded Cracking Sands to my Chromebook Pixel, turned off the laptop’s Wi-Fi radio, plugged in a wired Xbox 360 controller and had a ball with this.
It’s no rival to current high-end console games, of course, but it’s fun and can be placed on a Chromebook even without an internet connection. And since the game originated on mobile devices with touchscreens, I can even play it using the Pixel’s touchscreen, although I prefer using a controller.
The point here is this: Google has been working on its Packaged Apps and Native Client support for some time and I think this effort will be highly visible next week at Google I/O.
Instead of touting Chrome OS solely as a fast web experience with some web apps and extensions, I suspect Chrome OS will be shown as a true desktop operating system alternative. Developers are starting to jump on board, although I’d like to hear more from Google just how many are interested. As a full-time Chromebook user, I can’t wait to see what apps end up on the improved Chrome OS platform.