At a press conference today, Google made a number of announcements featuring its Chrome operating system, including details about upcoming Chrome laptops, improvements to the OS, a Chrome Web store, and more.
Google announced improvements made to the Chrome OS in speed, simplicity, and security:
- Instant Search was added to the Chrome Omnibox search box;
- The OS updates automatically, transparently to the user;
- Security will be built into numerous layers, and apps and plug-ins "sandboxed," so that malware cannot reach the rest of your system.
Also announced was the Chrome Web store, which is rolling out today with around 500 apps. The goal of the store is to help developers to showcase apps and to make the purchase process speedy and simple—it will be integrated with Google Checkout for one-click buying.
You'll be able to use apps even when you're offline: Even news apps such as the New York Times, which was demoed, will be cached so you can read them even without connectivity. Amazon also debuted a new HTML 5 Chrome app called Kindle for the Web, which will let you access books that you've purchased from anywhere online.
Google spoke on the changes that Chrome OS notebooks will bring to the computing experience. When you first turn your new notebook on, you choose a Web connection, accept the terms and conditions, check for updates, and take a profile photo. You're then launched into the browser, which will have your apps, bookmarks, and so on already present; and all changes you make on any machine you're using will propagate across to any other machine you use, whether it's a Chrome laptop or not.
For connectivity, 3G will be built in; you'll be able to switch between that and Wi-Fi to stay connected constantly. But many apps will work offline as well. And you'll be able to print to any printer on your network using Google CloudPrint, which is still in beta.
Google aims to avoid computer slowdown with a new automatic OS upgrade every few weeks. Google laptops are expected to ship in mid-2011.
Some folks may not need to wait that long, though: Google also announced the Chrome OS Pilot Program. Pinchai held up an unbranded prototype Chrome notebook named Cr-48 that'll be sent to selected users who are "used to beta testing" to test various features. The Cr-48 been distributed already to business partners, as well as to each attendee of the conference. But there's still time to apply, if you'd like to be a tester: go to http://www.google.com/chromeos.