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Chrome web apps will soon tout desktop-like speed

Jon Fingas
Associate Editor
Jon Fingas/Engadget

If web apps are going to truly replace native apps, they'll need the near-instantaneous responsiveness of desktop apps. That appears to be on the horizon, thankfully. Google is unveiling Chrome tools that will help web apps run as quickly as their native counterparts, not to mention make them more usable offline. A newly introduce Web Bundles framework will let developers distribute fast-loading web apps through "any format," including USB drives -- you wouldn't even need to be online to start using an app. Background syncing and context indexing, meanwhile, will let apps "proactively" cache data to make sure it's quickly available whether or not you're connected.

Web Bundles are available now through an experimental flag in Chrome, while background syncing and content indexing are only available as "origin trials."

Other updates are more about offering native-like features. An SMS Receiver allows text-base two-factor authentication for secure sign-ins, while a contact picker and a native file system framework respectively help you share and save data more like you'd expect.

It's up to developers to make use of these technologies, so don't expect the web to change overnight. That's particularly true when many website creators may want software-agnostic web apps that work equally well on Firefox, Opera, Safari and other common browsers. If enough web app writers do embrace this, though, Chromebooks may be more viable for people used to the performance and convenience of apps on other platforms.