How Google Chrome Is Behaving Ever More Like an Operating System

by Ostatic Staff - Jul. 10, 2013

Slowly but surely, Google is transforming the Chrome browser into a robust platform that features many of the capabilities of a full-blown operating system. In fact, the company is steadily blurring the lines between browsers and operating systems--a trend the company launched when it began developing Chrome OS alongside the Chrome browser.

Mike Tsao, from the Chrome Apps team, reported in a blog post that this week's "Chrome Dev channel release brings Chrome packaged apps richer access to Google services such as Google Analytics, Google APIs and Google Wallet, and better OS integration using services such as Bluetooth and native app communication. These are only some of the ways Google is transforming Chrome into a strong, operating system-like platform.

For months now, Google has been pursuing a strategy that allows users of the Chrome browser to easily find and run "packaged apps" just like sophisticated web apps that users of Chrome OS are used to running. Chrome packaged apps are now available in the Chrome Web Store.

Tsao's post make clear that Google fully intends to add connumications and platform-level services to Chrome's capabilitie. For example, consider his point about in-app payment capabilities:

"The In App Payments API allows packaged app developers to sell digital and virtual goods in a packaged app. The API is built on the Google Wallet for digital goods platform and provides a simple user interface for buyers. In addition to one-time billing, this API supports subscription-based billing."

As another case in point, consider Tsao's comments about the new Bluetooth API, which is evidence of how Google intends to create bridges between Chrome and hardware devices:

"The Bluetooth API, based on the 4.0 specification, allows packaged apps to connect to Bluetooth devices such as smartphones and headsets. The API's Low Energy support allows Chrome packaged apps to automatically sync data from low energy health devices like fitness trackers and heart rate sensors."

That's powerful, platform-level stuff. Add to the mix the fact that through Google's acquisition of QuickOffice, it is allowing users of the Chrome browser to edit Microsoft Office applications (who needs Windows to do so?). 

Of course, Google can only go so far in making the Chrome browser behave like an operating system. But by adding OS-like functionality to its browser, Google will make it ever easier for users to make the leap from Chrome to Chrome OS. In fact, going forward, look for much more integration between the development teams behind Chrome and Chrome OS.