Google’s new Chrome Web Store offers a whole new way to install apps on your machine — and as with most new systems, it has a few minor quirks. Here’s the not-always-obvious ways to negotiate through the store.
To make use of the newly-launched Chrome Web Store, you’ll need to install Google Chrome (a free download which you can grab here if you don’t already have it). Despite Google’s frequently stated commitment to open standards, you can’t run web store apps in other browsers. (The standards are being made available as open source, but right now Chrome is your only option.)
You’ll also need a Google account. If you use Gmail, YouTube, Picasa or any other Google service, you’ve already got one. If not, you can sign up on Google’s site. If you want to purchase apps rather than just using free ones, you’ll also need to sign up for Google Checkout. (The sign-up option will appear when you try to buy an app.)
The Chrome Web store can be found here. It also appears as an icon on the New Tab page within Chrome. (If you don’t have that icon, likelihood is you’re not running the absolute newest version of Chrome. Click on the wrench icon and choose ‘About Google Chrome’ to see if there’s an update available.)
Browsing around the store and installing apps is honestly very easy, so we won’t go through it in detail here. However, there’s a couple of less obvious features when it comes to buying, running and removing apps.
Google’s own public pronouncements on this have been a little confusing, but Australians can purchase paid-for apps via the Web Store. Right now, they’ll be charged in US dollars, which means you’ll almost certainly end up slugged with foreign transaction fees. Australian dollar payments should appear some time in 2011.
Like Android, the Web Store allows you to change your mind. If you purchase an app by mistake or decide it isn’t suitable, you can cancel the purchase — though you only have 30 minutes to do so, unlike the more generous 24 hours for Android.
One trap to be wary of: some apps in the store are set up as a subscription, which means they’ll charge you the listed price every so often (whether that’s monthly or once a year). Read the pricing details carefully.
Installed apps will show up on the main Chrome New Tab page, which appears when you launch the browser (unless you’ve changed that setting) or open a new tab. Click on the app icon to run it. If you right-click the icon, you’ll have additional options: opening full screen, as a normal tab or as a ‘pinned’ tab (which remains locked in position on the left of your tabs list).
Within the Chrome Web Store itself, there’s a ‘Your apps’ link in the right-hand column. While you might expect this to give you access to your purchased apps, you’d be wrong. Right now, that link offers a list of your installed apps and lets you review them for the benefit of other users, but doesn’t actually let you launch or manage your apps. I’d expect Google to fix this pretty soon; what’s the point of a ‘Your apps’ link where you can’t perform those tasks?
To uninstall an app, right click on it from the New Tab page and select uninstall. After confirming, the app will be removed from your list. (On my machine at least, uninstalled apps continue to appear in the ‘Your apps’ list within the store, which suggests yet again that Google needs to tidy up this feature a bit.)
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