Google launched an experimental feature in the Chrome Dev channel on Tuesday that makes it easier to use Google Drive Apps. The latest version of the Chrome App Launcher now shows Google Drive App shortcuts, although you have to enable the feature to see them.
Google evangelist François Beaufort shared a screenshot of the latest App Launcher, showing Google Drive Apps alongside traditional Chrome apps. To turn on this view — you have to be using the Chrome Dev channel — you can simply type
chrome://flags/#enable-drive-apps-in-app-list in your browser and click the Enable link. Once Chrome restarts, you should see Google Drive Apps in the App Launcher.
Google Drive Apps are exactly what they sound like: Apps that work directly with Google Drive. Per Google, these can:
- Access and open files in Google Drive
- Create new files through the app
- Access Google Drive files from an app outside of Google Drive
- Save a file to Google Drive from an app outside of Google Drive
- Share any file type, including files created with a Google Drive app
There’s an entire section of the Chrome Web Store devoted to Google Drive Apps, so you can browse it to see examples such as the StackEdit Markup editor, Pixlr Editor for image edits, and the ShiftEdit online IDE for programming, to name a few.
Although there’s no guarantee that the App Launcher changes will migrate up to the Chrome Stable channel, I hope it does. It’s far easier to open an app and then see the files that app works with than to have to find your data files in the Chrome Files app first. And it’s also consistent with how other traditional platforms work: You can typically open an app to manipulate or view compatible files or you can use file associations to open an app from a file.