What Chrome Apps Do You Actually Use? [Reader Feedback]

What Google Chrome Apps Do You Actually Use? | 40Tech

I like Google Chrome. Love it, in fact. I love the extensions, I love the OS-style feel of it, and I love the apps integration that makes that feel possible. It long ago took over Firefox for me, and, while I love the foxy Fox, I’ve never been able to go back to it full time.

The one thing I find with Google Chrome, however, is that — like my computer and my mobile devices — I have a tendency to collect apps that seem useful, and then rarely use them. I tell myself that they might come in handy one day (and therefore should be kept), but that’s probably just an excuse — an excuse that got me wondering: do you have the same problem?

I organize my apps into different pages, and I’ve listed them below, only detailing the Quick Apps page, which are the ones I like to keep available and (in theory) use the most. I’ve uncluttered recently, but I still find that I barely use many of the apps within.

Google Chrome Apps For Business, Life and Getting Things Done | 40Tech

Evernote Web - I never open this. Well, very rarely. I use the desktop app or my mobile apps instead. I keep it, though, on the off-chance that I’ll load up Chrome OS or install Linux and sync my profile. Or something.

SpringpadI like Springpad and I do use this, as the app is strictly web-based at this time. I also enjoy some of the integration into the context menu, though I don’t actually use it that often.

Producteev - I use this one, too. Producteev has a desktop app, and that’s great, but it needs work. I also prefer to have my task manager in the browser, as I do most of my work while online, and the browser makes it quickly accessible.

Wunderlist - I love Wunderlist. It’s probably the sexiest task/list manager out there. I rarely use it, though, as my workflow is based around Producteev. Occasionally, I might use it to quickly make a pretty list that I want with me on my iPhone and iPad, but I have no real need for it. But it’s pretty!

Wunderkit - I know what you’re thinking… If I don’t use Wunderlist, what do I need the whole Wunderkit for? Short answer — I don’t, even though it’s awesome. But I keep thinking I might employ it as an alternative for Producteev or something. That will likely never happen, though — and shouldn’t I put it in my App testing folder, instead? Yeah, you’re probably right. And yet…

Mint - Now this, I use. I don’t use it enough or to its full potential, but I do use it. Mint is an awesome money managing app, and it has been working up in Canada for a while now. I’m not letting this one go.

Timer - This is a simple button that fires the Timer site/app (formerly TimerTab, which we covered here) — which allows you oddly enough, to time stuff. You can even set a YouTube video as an alarm. I chose Spill the Wine by Eric Burdon and War.

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Gmail | Offline Google Mail - I live in Gmail, so this is a no brainer. I set it to open in its own window and roll out. I don’t usually use Offline Google Mail, and I think it may be totally useless now that Google is doing better offline mail within the regular Gmail app, but I haven’t tossed it yet. Just in case…

Google Calendar - There are a number of ways I can get at Google Calendar, but I use this when I want it to easily open in its own window. Which is a rare thing… but I do still use it.

Google Docs - This is my web portal to Google Drive – which is an awesome 5GB of free storage space with a 10GB file size limit, plus more — and it could be an Evernote alternative in its own right.

TweetDeck | Hootsuite - I have no idea why I keep these here. I find that I manage multiple Twitter accounts more effectively on my phone, or by using LastPass to sign in to the account I choose. For work accounts, I have a whole other browser profile that I tend to use, so there is never any real conflict. If I consolidate, though, one of them could be useful, I suppose. Who needs to have so much social information thrown at you at one time, though? Keep it simple and lower your stress level, says I.

Box | Dropbox - I use both of these, but if the two, Box is the only one I ever open, because it is a web-only interface. I use my OS for Dropbox. I keep it there for the Google OS potential, though. I used to have SugarSync there, as well, but that app seems to have disappeared for the Chrome Web Store.

My other pages are separated by Design, Fun Stuff, and App Testing.

In Design I have several Aviary image editing and creation apps, Picnik, and Audiotool. Again, I think I keep these for when I’m on a computer that isn’t Adobe-friendly, as I never use them otherwise. Design also has Zootool (a visual bookmarking app I never use), jsFiddle (code-testing sandbox that I rarely use), Pinterest (more for my wife, than me – and why under design…?), Summify, and Revisu (helps with design iterations when using Google Drive).

Google Chrome Apps for Photo Editing, Autio Editing, and Design | 40Tech

Fun Stuff (which is woefully bare, unfortunately) has Kid Mode for Chrome, which is the Zoodles app for my daughter. Zoodles is awesome, but the app hasn’t worked properly in Chrome for a while, leading me to use Firefox for this particular function. This page also has YouTube (which I mostly get to via search), Full Screen Weather (which I usually check on my phone), Graphicly Comics (which I never use), and Planetarium (used rarely). Netflix used to be here, but it is nowhere to be found on the Web Store now.

Google Chrome Apps for Kids, Fun, and Entertainment | 40Tech

App Testing tends to change, by its nature, but there are a few things in there that are persistent for some reason. I’ve left Jolicloud in there, as well as Memonic, and SlideRocket (which is cool, but I don’t generally use due to the pricing). I’ve also got HelloFax in there (it works with Google Drive and I use it sometimes, but had nowhere else to put it), Summify (it will stop working eventually, as it’s been bought by Twitter, but I keep it here in the meantime) and Thinkery (possible Evernote alternative I need to get around to testing more). This is also where I keep the Web Store link.

Google Chrome Apps I'm Testing | 40Tech

So there you have it. Even after going through every app in my Chrome set up, I still don’t know what ones to get rid of, but I only use about a third of what I have with any regularity. It’s a conundrum, I tell you!

How about you? Do you have any Chrome apps that you keep around, but never use? What are the apps that you do use, and couldn’t live without?

Timer Tab Turns Your Browser Into a Simple and Beautiful Timer, Alarm Clock, and Stopwatch

Timer Tab Turns Your Browser Into a Simple and Beautiful Timer, Alarm Clock, and Stopwatch | 40Tech

Chrome’s Web Store houses all manner of apps — but they don’t have to be complex to be effective. Timer Tab is really nothing more than a simple countdown timer, alarm, and stopwatch built into a web page (accessible in any browser, including mobile Safari) — but the integration it enjoys with Google Chrome makes it incredibly useful. Time is a commodity that we’re all a little short on, and Timer Tab helps you manage it simply and easily.

The interface of Timer Tab is a minimalist’s dream. It’s uncluttered, functional, and oddly pretty as it basks in its own emptiness. The functionality speaks for itself: enter a time to count down, or an alarm time, and press the start button. The stopwatch doesn’t require any entry at all, just a press of the button, followed by a click on the pause/resume button as needed. Even the options are simple — there are only three, and you get to them by rolling the mouse over the the “more” link on the bottom of the page.

Timer Browser StopwatchTimer Tab Browser Alarm Clock

Timer Tab’s Chrome integrations allow for two important functions: desktop notifications and the flashing of the mini-version of the time that hangs out in the title area of the browser tab. This is a fantastic way to make sure your attention is brought to the alarm you set, and is especially helpful if you are trying to keep track of how much time you spend doing something on your computer, or to remind yourself to take a break. Notifications can be enabled or disabled with a single click in the options area, and if you want to, you can add a link to an image or a YouTube video as your alarm.

Theoretically, you should be able to add a YouTube video at a particular time index by adding something like &t=2m18s to the end of the link. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to get that to work properly. If you have better luck, let me know!

Timer Tab is a simple, effective, and completely free/good looking way to keep track of time sensitivities when you are in the browser or just on the computer — which is often for so many of us these days. I recommend using it with any browser, but install it in Chrome to get the most out of it.

Timer Tab was created by Romuald Brillout, who also made Time Tab (a minimalist clock and calendar app), dooity.com (a light and simple list manager), and inboxn.com (a light hub for social communications).

What do you think of Timer Tab?

A USB-Stick with Chrome OS Has (Almost) Replaced Windows for Me

A USB-Stick with Chrome OS Have (Almost) Replaced Windows for Me | 40Tech

Google Chrome OS has been in the works for a while now, and has captured the imaginations of techies everywhere. Most of those interested were expecting — or at least hoping — to see laptops and netbooks that were near-completely cloud-based by the latter half of 2010, and the Cr-48 notebook and research “pilot program” was finally announced on December 7th. Many people have been testing Chrome OS for some time, however using methods such as booting from a USB-stick into a custom Chrome OS (or Chromium OS) build put together by friendly genius Hexxeh. The builds, as one might expect, were fraught with problems — hardware incompatibilities, the OS itself (and its features and capabilities) still in flux — and these problems usually lead to the conclusion that Chrome OS was just not ready for the world at large.

All of that is about to change.

Over the past year or so, significant advances have been made in the Google Chrome browser, which is the basis for the Chrome OS project. The ability to sync extensions, bookmarks (sometimes), and other user data allowed for users to carry their experience from one computer to another, and the introduction of the Chrome Web Store added a whole new way to find and integrate web apps into the computing experience. These things, as well as numerous back-end improvements, have brought us must closer to living in the browser, and have improved both the usability and viability of Google’s cloud-focused OS.

Hexxeh has been busy as well, coming out with new versions of his own Chrome OS build. The most recent one, Flow, was a strong step forward, but still only truly feasible for limited testing and playing around, especially depending on your hardware. When I tried Flow, I found that it worked well enough on one of my laptops, a Toshiba Satellite A300, though I often had issues connecting to WiFi, and had problems with saving into and loading files from the lightweight Linux system the browser interface is built on. My HP DV8000 couldn’t run it at all. Hexxeh reportedly has a new build on the way called Lime, but was waiting for the Chromium OS developers to move forward, and has been busy testing out his own Cr-48.

That was months ago. With all of the improvements in the Chrome browser lately, I found myself curious to try another go ’round with the OS. I was disappointed that Hexxeh’s Lime wasn’t out yet (it is still in development as of this writing), but on a whim, I decided to try one of the crisp and clean Vanilla builds from the bleeding edge nightly section of Hexxeh’s site, a near-direct link to the mythical builders in Mountain View (I picked up Version 0.10.157.r3d7fa3a0 on February 3rd, 2011). Much to my very pleasant surprise, the OS worked on my A300 — and worked perfectly, out of the box, with much fewer usability issues than any Windows installation I’ve ever tried! I was stoked — and have since been using the speedy little USB stick to boot up my computer into ChromeOS nearly every day, with the exception of times when I needed to do work in a decent vector drawing program. There really is no HTML5 comparison for Adobe Illustrator that I know of. Photoshop, sure — but not Illustrator.

In fact, the only real issues I had, other than the fact that syncing was a little spotty (app and extension syncing missed a few, and bookmarks wouldn’t sync at all), was the lack of Netflix (no Silverlight on Linux), and figuring out the new keyboard commands for reloading and closing tabs. Why Google decided to change the familiar F5 reload to Ctrl+R is beyond me, but once I figured out the quirks I was rolling along smoothly. Downloading and uploading files worked working well, too, though there should really be a direct path to the folder, rather than having to search through the Linux file system. While I’m throwing things out there, I would also like to see some built in social features like Rockmelt.

I have yet to try it on my DV8000, but I’ve found that this recent Vanilla build of Chrome OS has been a pleasure to work with, overall. When I don’t want to go through a long Windows boot cycle just to go online and do some work on the internet, I just plug in the USB stick and go. I’m up and running in just a few minutes. I hope that Hexxeh figures a way to do a dual boot on my actual laptop hard drive — one that can access more space for storage, and maybe other files in the Windows part of the drive would be ideal, of course. I don’t see that happening, but hey, a guy can hope, right?

If you want to try out the Vanilla builds of Chrome OS, or even the somewhat deprecated but known-to-be-stable Flow, grab a flash drive and check out Hexxeh’s website. Things are easy to find, and instructions are very clear. If you want updates on Hexxeh’s builds and the Chrome OS project in general, follow @hexxeh on Twitter.

Let us know your thoughts and experiences in the comments!

Block Sites From Search Results with the Personal Block List Extension [Chrome]

Block Sites From Search Results with the Personal Block List Extension [Chrome] | 40Tech

A new and incredibly useful extension has popped up on the Chrome Web Store: Personal Block List (by Google). If you have ever searched for something and been plagued by useless links that wiggle past Google’s algorithm — and odds are you have — then this extension is your friend. Personal Block List adds a handy little “Block [URL]” button to the right of the “Cached” and “Similar” links in Google’s search results. Once clicked, that site is omitted from your search results until you decide otherwise.

Block Sites from Search Results with Personal Block List Extension for Google Chrome, Rockmelt | 40Tech

Neat, huh? Of course, it should be mentioned that this extension will transmit information to Google regarding the sites you have blocked, including patterns that you create as you block or unblock sites. Google promises to only use this information for good and to improve their products. Actually, there are no promises. They just say that you “agree that Google may freely use this information to improve [their] products and services.” Considering all of the things out there that already track browsing habits — including Google — this sort of tracking may actually be a step forward.

In any case, the extension does its job well. In a few of the coding-related searches I have been conducting lately, looking for help on a particular area of menu design, I repeatedly found myself directed, via several different domains, to the same annoying website trying to sell me their tool that was apparently supposed to make my life easier. My annoyance in this regard is no more. The Personal Block List extension for Google Chrome (as well as Chromium, and Rockmelt) works!

If I were to have any issues with the extension, they would be that it does not work from the searchbar, only from the actual Google site, and that it doesn’t appear to have a master list in the cloud. That last surprised me, and meant that I had to block the same site twice, once in Rockmelt, and once in Chrome. Still, it did the job. I can see that there will be many more sites that will end up being forcibly removed from my search results soon.

Try it out the Personal Block List (by Google) Chrome extension here.

Google Chrome OS Preview on USB Flash Drive

Google Chrome OS | Cloud-based Netbook Operating System | Chromium Projects As a not-so-closet techie (or tech-geek, if you will), I find myself instantly attracted to all things new and shiny — even when the polish is not altogether there yet. This is why, on this US Thanksgiving evening, I find myself writing a post about Google Chrome OS from within a recently released build of Google Chrome OS (and I’m writing the post in Google Wave, no less). I’m positively giddy! I know, I know, so much hype is surrounding Chrome OS — and pretty much anything that Google does these days — but I don’t care. I want to play! I like to play!! And so here is my take on the current state and usability of the Google Chrome Operating System and how to check it out for yourself…

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Google Chrome Operating System – Able to Promise Big Because it Delivers Small?

chrome On Tuesday night, Google announced its new Chrome operating system, with the code due for release later this year, and netbooks that run it due in the second half of 2010.  Some of the announcement is sure to be marketing speak, as Google’s announcement seems to promise the world.  Or does it?  Is Google able to promise what it does, because the OS itself is actually going to deliver very little?

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