Google just unveiled its plans for a major shakeup of the computer industry. It’s a classic three-pronged approach consisting of Google’s Chrome web browser, the newly-opened Chrome Web Store, and the upcoming Chrome Operating System. Let’s take a closer look.
Chrome (the web browser)
Google has reported a jump from 70 million to 120 million Chrome users over the past six months. The latest version of the browser (rolling out soon) will bring Google’s “Instant” web search technology to searches initiated directly from the address bar and extends the feature to pre-load commonly visited web pages. For example, the guy doing the demo simply typed the letter “E” and Chrome loaded up ESPN.com in the browser.
Google also demoed its new built-in PDF reader, which is capable of loading up enormous PDF files in a fraction of a second.
The Chrome web browser will also be capable of leveraging your computer’s graphics card to offload visually-intensive tasks from the processor, which paves the way for graphically-rich applications and games that run directly inside the browser. That leads us to the Chrome Web Store.
Chrome Web Store
If you like iPad apps, you’ll love the Chrome Web Store. Web apps from Google’s new browser-based app store look an awful lot like iPad apps, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing at all.
Apps can be purchased in a couple clicks, and several feature “Try it Free” options. Initial partners on board include the New York Times, Electronic Arts/Pogo.com, Amazon, and more.
The Chrome Web Store will be available today at chrome.google.com/webstore with 500 apps on board. You can run the apps inside the Chrome web browser on your computer, or as the primary applications on Google’s upcoming Chrome Operating System.
Chrome OS (the operating system)
It’s “nothing but the web,” according to Google. The operating system consists of little more than the Chrome web browser.
A new Chrome notebook takes four steps to set up and you’ll be up and running in less than 60 seconds. You choose a network connection, accept the terms of service, log in with your Google credentials, and take a photo of yourself using the webcam.
Chrome OS features instant resume from standby on “an order of milliseconds,” according to Google. They demonstrated a notebook coming out of standby and it was back up and connected to the web instantly.
Synchronization of your files, programs, and data happens seamlessly across any machines running Chrome OS. If you lose your computer, you’ll be able to get all of your data back when you buy a new one, for instance.
As far as apps go, you’ll be able to use them even when offline. However, Chrome OS is meant to be used as a connected operating system. As such, every Chrome OS notebook will ship with 3G cellular data connections built in, along with 100MB per month of free 3G data from Verizon. That deal lasts for two years, there are no contracts, and more robust plans start at $10.
On the security front, Chrome OS features automatic operating system updates, fully encrypted data, and the core operating system can’t be accessed or changed by viruses.
The first Chrome OS notebooks will be available from Acer and Samsung in mid-2011, but Google is running a pilot program for certain businesses and early adopting consumers who want to get their hands on a free Chrome OS notebook to test out.
The computer being given away in the pilot program is simply known as Cr-48 and features a 12.1-inch display, full size keyboard, oversized trackpad, global 3G connection, Wi-Fi connection, 8+ hour battery life with 8+ day standby, and a built-in web cam.
There are no caps lock keys, no function keys, no hard drives, and Google has made jail breaking built-in, so you can load other operating systems onto it if you’re so inclined. More details on the pilot program here.
More on Techland: