Wave Accounting is featured in the Chrome storeWave has been a featured app on on the Google Chrome Web Store for a couple of weeks now! If you're a Chrome user (Mac or PC), you can visit Wave's page in the store, click "Install," and always have Wave easily at your fingertips. And using the Pinned Tabs feature of Chrome makes it even easier to keep organized.

Wha...?

This is the point where most people glaze over, or give a resounding, "Huh?" So let me back up and give a bit more detail.

What is Google Chrome?

Chrome is a web browser produced by Google. It's an alternative to Internet Explorer (IE), Firefox, Safari and others. Is it better? A lot of developers like it because it's fast, and much more standards-compliant than Explorer. It's rapidly gaining popularity because it works well, and because of features like the Chrome Web Store.

What is the Chrome Web Store?

The Chrome Web Store is a directory of online ("cloud") applications that you can "install" in your Chrome browser. There are thousands of apps to choose from, from games (like Angry Birds) to online accounting apps. Some apps (including Wave) are free, and others are not.

apps in new Chrome tabWhen you install an app, its icon appears under "Apps" when you open a new empty tab in Chrome. To launch the app, you just click on the big, juicy icon.

Some people complain that "installing" an app is just a glorified bookmarking process, and they're partly right. But there are some cool features, too.

So why bother with the Chrome Web Store?

Google (and lots of other people) believe that computing is naturally headed toward "the cloud" -- that is, more and more people will be running online applications instead of installed-on-your-hard-drive applications. In addition to being a slick browser, Chrome makes it easy to run apps, or at least makes it easy to keep all your apps in front of you where you want them.

Now, I mentioned above that some folks think installing an app in Chrome is not much different from bookmarking. And they're kinda right. After all, the app doesn't actually live in your browser, and you still need to go online to use it. But there are advantages to installing an app in Chrome:

1. Pinned tabs

For any app you install, you can open it in a "Pinned tab." A pinned tab is a special kind of tab that slides all the way to the left in your browser window, where it takes up less space. More importantly (this is the cool part), if you have apps pinned and you quit your browser, any pinned tabs will reopen when you start a new session. So imagine that you always want to have Wave, Gmail and Tweetdeck running when you open Chrome. You can pin the tabs, and each time you launch Chrome, there they are. [caption id="attachment_1864" align="alignright" width="622" caption="Three pinned tabs take up less space than one normal tab."]3 pinned tabs[/caption]

To create a pinned tab:

  • log into Chrome and open a new tab
  • right click (or command+click) the icon to any app that you have installed
  • choose "Open as pinned tab"
  • click the app icon to open

You can also right click or command+click on any normal tab, and select Pin Tab. However, that will only pin the tab for this session; if you launch it again later on, it will open in a normal (unpinned) tab.

With an app open in a pinned tab, you can just leave the window open and do what you want when you want to, and the tab is small enough to not get in your way while you do other things. That's useful when you have lots of cloud apps on the go at once. I suggest you only open Wave in a pinned tab if you're on your own computer in a secure place -- you don't want to leave your windows open if it's a public machine.

Worth pointing out: A pinned tab isn't locked to the app you launched. In other words, if you open Wave in a pinned tab, and then (while in that window) you select a new website link, that new site will now live in the pinned spot. (That functionality doesn't make sense to me, but I'm just the messenger...)

2. Full screen

Some apps work better if you open them in "Full Screen" mode -- i.e., taking up your entire monitor. (Having the extra length to a Wave screen helps sometimes, but the extra width doesn't matter too much, so Full Screen isn't too big an advantage for us.) Chrome allows you to set a preference to open an app in Full Screen mode. The steps are similar to setting a pinned tab: right click or control+click the icon in a new tab, and select "Open full screen."

These features aren't necessarily earth shattering. Yes, it's just a spruced-up bookmark. But hey, better that than a plain-old vanilla bookmark, right? And truthfully, the more I use my cloud apps in a pinned tab, the more frustrated I get when some cloud apps (like Wordpress) don't appear in the Chrome store.

Apps in the Chrome web store will undoubtedly evolve to offer more features, too, like processing that happens in the background while you do something else, or even the ability to work offline. I imagine pinned tabs are just the tiny first step of something much bigger. At Wave, we'll continue to explore these options as they come up.

Interested in getting started? You can download Chrome here, and install Wave here.

Firefox App Tab

Right click a Firefox tab to pin an appChrome isn't the only option for pinned tabs. Users of Firefox 4 can do the same thing: right click or command+click on a tab, and select "Pin as App Tab." This feature works pretty well exactly as it does in Chrome. But for the moment there's no app store for Firefox.