Ever since Chrome launched its Web App Store, developers have rushed to convert their existing Web-based tools to downloadable and installable apps for the browser.
The results have been, for the most part, mixed. Where some of the apps have been little more than bookmarks to sites and services that we already use, others worked to take advantage of the medium and showcase the real power of Web-based apps, especially when combined with a modern, extensible browser.
With that in mind, here are six of the most powerful and compelling Chrome Web Store Apps that you can download and run today. Many of these apps will easily replace traditional software, including very expensive applications in some cases, and showcase just how powerful of a development platform the Web can be.
TweetDeck is best known for both its Adobe Air-based Twitter/Facebook/LinkedIn/etc. client as well as its mobile version. But with their new Chrome App, Tweetdeck introduces an HTML5 client that may actually be better than its other editions.
Not only does it maintain Tweetdeck’s traditional multi-column structure but it instantly updates as new messages come in and has all of the features one would expect. The interface has also been streamlined and the app even loads faster and feels snappier than the Air version in many cases.
TweetDeck has said that this is the future direction for their product and with very good reason.
imo Instant Messenger
Though there are many services that let you connect to mulitple instant messaging services via one app, imo Instant Messenger stands out. Not only is imo’s service available through the app store and it interfaces with its mobile application, but it also doesn’t require you to create an account with the service. Instead, you simply use your login for any of your IM accounts and imo links them together.
The imo interface is clean, simple and powerful. The app version, which is based on the “New” version of the imo.im site, has all of the features you would expect and can interface with AIM, Yahoo, Google Talk, Facebook, Myspace and even Skype.
It also supports audio and video calling within the app itself.
HTML5 Photo Editor by Aviary
Most users don’t need full Photoshop for their photo editing needs. For those, HTML5 Photo Editor by Aviary, a Web-based photo editor that does most of the basic tasks one would need including rotating, resizing flipping, color adjustment and more, is a natural choice.
Aviary even offers several interesting filters that you can try out for new effects, and it does it all with a snappy interface that can pull image from either the Web or from your hard drive.
For those who want to make quick adjustments to an image without leaving the browser, Aviary’s HTML5 Photo Editor may be just the tool one needs. If nothing else, it beats having to leave the browser and open up a new app just to resize an image.
The power of Box.net is already well known but having it integrated into Chrome as an app makes it even easier to use. Box.net lets you upload, store, share and edit files online, making it a great tool for collaboration and for projects.
The Box Web app adds in HTMl5 drag and drop, which makes it easier to upload files and move files around. There is also a mobile version that can be used on most devices, including iOS, Android and Blackberry.
All in all, Box is easily the most powerful app of its kind and one of the most useful collaboration services available.
LucidChart makes it easy to draw any kind of diagram you wish, including everything from flowcharts to mockups, and it makes collaboration and sharing equally simple, due to the real-time editing and chat.
With it’s Chrome Web App, it makes the process even snappier and faster. The only drawback is that the free account is very limited, though any serious designer will likely want a paid account regardless.
Sometimes what makes an app great isn’t the features it has, but the ones it doesn’t have. Write Space is a completely self-contained, offline word processor. It saves data locally and it does so with every keystroke, making it almost impossible to lose any data.
However, Microsoft Word this is not. Write Space is a plain text editor designed for full screen, distraction-free writing. You open up Write Space and write, it’s that simple. You get updated document statistics but not much else. At this time, there isn’t even an ability to save files directly to your hard drive, you instead have to copy and paste the text.
But for those writers who need a fast, easy way to write without the distractions that come with other Web-based word processors, Write Space can be a godsend.
All in all, what is becoming clear is that Web apps are able to do more and more of what was once solely the domain of traditional, hard drive-based applications. However, as these Web apps become installs for browsers, the lines between the two become blurred as they have both elements of a traditional Web app and an installed one.
The future of software is nothing if not exciting and, as these apps show, the real winners will be the users who will get tons of new, even more powerful tools to get things done.