A majority of Chrome users is well acquainted with their applications - browser extensions that allow to store some of your data locally (meaning, on your hard drive) and offer some offline features. Now, however, Google decided to take another step ahead.
A new category of applications is called Chrome Packaged Apps. These services can be launched directly from your Windows Desktop (or, in case of Google system's users, from your Chrome OS). Therefore they work outside of the browser's window and come with their own independent interface.
You can install Chrome Packaged Apps just like any other standard desktop programs. You can find shortcuts on the taskbar of your operating system. You can launch the applications just like you run standard (pinned) Windows programs.
Right now there is around 50 programs for Windows and Chrome OS users. This number will of course increase when the developers of may popular extensions will convert their applications to that new program. Mac users will gain an access to their application base in the second half of October.
Looking for some examples? Chrome App Launcher is a great instance of new applications - this service allows to launch Chrome-based extensions with a special Window that is brought directly from Windows taskbar.
These new applications have a vast variety of different advantages. First of all, you don't have to launch the whole browser and this way you both save some space on your taskbar as well as improve your PC's performance (because a majority of data is saved on your hard drive, and because less RAM is used compared to browser-based extensions), and you can also use these applications offline and synchronize them later.
This last feature is especially interesting - if you have no Internet access (for example when travelling) you can still use various services. When there is an Internet access all the changes will by sent to the server and synchronized on all your devices (such as desktops, tablets, etc., etc.).
Among the desktop applications for Chrome you can find, among all, Google Keep - a new Web notepad designed by Google, Pocket - a tool for saving WWW websites to browse them offline, Any.Do - a to-do list creator, and WeatherBug - a weather prediction tool.
You can install these applications in just a few simple steps. First of all you have to go to a special category in Chrome Web Store. Choose the application you want to install and click on the button with a plus and a Free label (in the future paid programs will also appear here).
Confirm your installation. A new icon will appear on your operating system's taskbar in a few seconds. If you use Chrome Web Launcher, the new icon will be present there. You have to drag it onto the taskbar to pin the program here.
From now on, this new application will be launched in a separate window (if you use the shortcut on the taskbar). That window will appear whether you use Chrome or not.