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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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.