I’m sure we’ve all been there – you get a little bit bored with your homepage and decide that you want something a little different to look at when you boot up your browser. Whether you want to jump straight to the site you use the most, start searching straight away or even catch up on the latest news from the instant the browser wakes up, I’m sure we all want to switch things up a little sometimes. I did today, and that’s why I ended up using the Google Chrome App Store for the first time.

I’m not new to the existence of the App Store – I wrote about it on one of my work blogs when it first came out, (the article’s here if you’re interested), but I’ve never really felt the need to use it before. All the plugins I’ve needed have either been available from the Chrome Extension Gallery or they’ve been on Firefox; I’ve never really needed to use the App Store.

The Google Chrome App Store

So what changed? I had a play with Google Fastflip this morning, having long bemoaned the fact that there is no Android version of Flipboard. Long story short, I really didn’t like Fastflip, but I couldn’t shake the thought that having a Flipboard-like homepage would be brilliant; it’d certainly cut down on the time I was spending on the memory-hungry Pulse app I’ve got on my phone but alas, there isn’t a Flipboard web interface. There isn’t one for Pulse either. The only one I could find was NewsSquares and it wasn’t a site, it was an app. In order to get the homepage I wanted, I was going to have to treat my browser like it was a phone and install an app into it.

Although the idea of installing something in my browser’s hardly new to me – I’ve been using Firefox for about ten years – putting apps into it seems different and I’m not sure why. Maybe the amount of time I’ve been spending using Opera lately makes me yearn for the times when a browser is just a browser, maybe I’m just not sure that taking plugins and turning them into full-blown apps is going to help my productivity and maybe I’m just surprised that it took people so long to come up with the idea of the browser App Store.

NewsSquares has certainly done the job – now I can read the latest SEOMoz blog posts as soon as Chrome boots up, but I’ve still got my doubts that turning browsers into their own application platform is the best way forward. For me, plugins have always been there to simply improve the browsing experience, whether it’s for work, pleasure, shopping or anything else. If I’ve got the option to put games in my browser, that seems counterproductive to me; it’s like the browser will actually hinder my browsing.

I’m sure I’ll be using the Chrome App Store more in the not too distant future, and I’m sure I’ll be using the Firefox one too when that comes out, but all-told, I’ll try to use it sparingly. Maybe I’m just old-school and would rather use a separate install of Angry Birds than to play it by clicking a button in my browser.

What about you? Am I missing the point and blocking myself off from the future or do you not see the point in having to take up extra memory in your browser just because Flipboard haven’t done a web version yet? Leave me a comment and let me know.

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