The Difference Between Google Chrome Extensions And Web Apps - gHacks Tech News

The Difference Between Google Chrome Extensions And Web Apps

Google Chrome has supported extensions, sometimes called add-ons, for some time now. Recently the Google Chrome Web Store was added to the browser which has added web apps to the picture. The terminology can be confusing and this article tries to explain the differences.

Lets take a look first at how extensions and web apps can be installed. The majority of extensions is available at the Google Chrome extensions gallery. Web apps on the other hand are available at the Chrome web store.

But there is more to it than just a different location on the Internet. Web apps, according to Google are "applications you can run inside your browser with a dedicated user interface and, typically, rich user interaction". Web apps therefor are nothing more than interactive websites at this point in time. Google's intention is to formalize "the web app concept in a way that will be familiar to anyone who’s used apps on a smartphone".

A web app basically is a link to an interactive application on the Internet.

Extensions on the other hand often extend the functionality of the Chrome browser and websites viewed with the browser. They are not limited to providing their functionality on a specific website either.

Compared to apps, extensions cut across websites and web apps; they are usually in effect across all websites (though some are site-specific). Apps don’t combine with other apps in this way; they run standalone, like any regular website.

There is another difference between web apps and extensions. Users who want to install web apps need a Google account to do so. Extensions on the other hand can be installed without an account.

Additional information about web apps and extensions are available at the Apps vs. Extensions article at Google Code.





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    Comments

    1. funkybebel said on January 18, 2011 at 11:57 pm
      Reply

      Really often a wab app (available in google chrome app store) is only a link (like a bookmark) to a web site.
      I just don’t call it a webapp like in my iphone.

      Until they’ll make real apps, i’m not going to use it, since i have all my bookmarks.

      I don’t even think people would use it, because in an iphone or ipad it’s necessary (small screens) but with such desktop screens we have now ? The entire original site just fits.

      So….

    2. Carl said on January 19, 2011 at 9:41 am
      Reply

      There are two oversights in this otherwise informative article:

      “Web apps… are nothing more than interactive websites at this point in time…A web app basically is a link to an interactive application on the Internet.”

      Actually, there are two kinds of Web apps, “hosted” apps and “packaged” apps. Hosted apps are what this article describes: externally-hosted Web sites launched via a browser icon that may (since they know they will be running in Chrome) take advantage of some of the advanced capabilities of Chrome and HTML5.

      Packaged apps (http://code.google.com/chrome/extensions/apps.html), by contrast, run entirely in the browser without being served from an external Web site, and thus do not necessarily require an Internet connection. They may or may not obtain data from the Internet, but their initialization and interaction with the user are controlled by Javascript and HTML that are stored on the user’s computer and run in the Chrome browser.

      Like extensions, they can “cut across websites and web apps,” and thus can be used to present “mash-ups” of data from multiple Internet sites. They also have access to the same Chrome API methods that extensions have (and that hosted apps do not have). Their main difference from extensions is that they run only at the command of the user, and interact via a locally-stored HTML page, rather than working mainly behind the scenes as extensions do.

      If a packaged app does not require data from the Internet, it can run entirely on the client without an active Internet connection. Many apps in the Games category of the store, including one I have written myself, fall into this category.

      “The majority of extensions is available at the Google Chrome extensions gallery. Web apps on the other hand are available at the Chrome web store.”

      Extensions are now also available at the Chrome Web Store. They have their own category on the front page of the store.

      1. Martin said on January 19, 2011 at 12:27 pm
        Reply

        Carl thanks for the clarification.

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