First Chromebooks, then Windows, soon everywhere you access Google will be the Chrome App Launcher.
Google has struggled for a number of years presenting its ever increasing number of services to users without cluttering the traditionally minimalist Google home page.
Until recently, the only way to access Gmail, Calendar, and Google+, has been a black bar across the top of most Google page — very out of keeping with Google’s minimalist appearance. As the number of Google services increases, the inability to customise this bar, and add third-party Chrome Apps demands a new solution.
Google’s answer comes in the form of the Chrome OS app launcher.
The app launcher, familiar to all Chromebook users, is a simple pop up menu containing a customisable list of shortcuts to Chrome services and third-party web apps. It’s Google’s version of the Windows Start Menu.
In the last few months Google’s Chrome Launcher has become more prominent. The latest Chrome OS update, for example, moved the Chrome Launcher button to a static position at the far left of the task bar, a clear sign that Google sees the Chrome Launcher as central to its operating system as Microsoft does the Start Menu and Start Screen.
Last month also saw the launch of Chrome Launcher for Windows, the same launcher from Chrome OS but now on the Windows start bar — again, another challenge to Microsoft. And in the last few days the same Chrome Launcher has been appearing on Google web pages for many users, including the Google home page.
The move ties together Google’s services across all platforms and reiterates that the company’s heart is the web.
For students the change means that apps used with their Google Apps for Education account will travel with them from Chromebook, to desktop browser, at home and school.
The app launcher is rolling out to users now.