Chrome Apps Have Spread to the Desktop
Today is the fifth birthday of Chrome,
) Web browsing and application process that has caught on quickly
and become the most-used Web browser in the world, with a full 39%
of the browser market share. To celebrate the half-decade mark,
Google is expanding the platform beyond the Web browser and
Chromebooks with the new "For your desktop" section on the
Chrome Web Store
. The company is particularly targeting the Chrome desktop apps of
Windows users, as
) operating system is still handily the most used.
Chrome's offering of desktop apps are really quite versatile and
can do a lot of what native Windows apps already do: They work
offline, they can access the webcam and microphones of the
computer, and they support notification from email, online content,
and social media. The apps can be launched straight from the
desktop, and allow users to save data and content on the computer's
hard drive, as well as on the cloud through Google Drive and other
similar Web services.
The move illustrates how important Chrome is to Google's continued
growth: the Web and now desktop platform is the company's strongest
play for a long-term computing strategy. Next up, the apps from the
Chrome Store's "For your desktop" section will be available for
) and Linux.
Oyster, the Brand New Netflix of E-Books
Many startups want to become the
) of e-books but struggle to acquire an assortment of titles that
customers would pay a flat monthly rate to read. The problem is
that major publishers have been reluctant to sign their titles to
these startups because of how complicated it would be to pay their
authors for reads on a rental-based system. Most e-book rental
Owners' Lending Library, have a collection that consists mostly of
self-published titles that few people have ever heard of.
With backing from Peter Theil's Founders Fund, the New York-based
startup Oyster may have cracked the code and figured out how to be
for books what Netflix is for television and film. Today, Oyster,
which was founded by former Google, Microsoft, and Hunch employees,
launched its iPhone app with over 100,000 copyrighted titles, with
a monthly subscription fee of $9.95. As the app is in its infancy,
it is invite-only, but early buzz is positive for the content
library and for the design. Participating publishers include
HarperCollins, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Algonquin, and more,
though HarperCollins is the only major publishing player on the
list (Oyster is apparently in talks with the rest of the publishing
The app's interface is akin to that of Netflix, allowing the user
to browse categories such as "Popular Science," "Award-Winning
Fiction," and "Book to Blockbusters." Moreover, the app allows the
reader to customize the type size and screen brightness, and offers
five "themes" (a.k.a. fonts) to choose from.
For now, the app is available only for iPhone, but the Oyster team
has plans to bring it to the iPad this fall. As for Android users,
they may not be able to partake in the Netflix of e-books for now:
Oyster has no "concrete plans" to launch its app on anything other
than iOS -- at least, not for the moment.
E-Cigarette Use Doubles in Teens, According to the
According to newly released data from the US Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention (CDC), the number of high schoolers that had
tried electronic cigarettes more than doubled from 2011 to 2012,
from 4.7% to 10%. Of course, the CDC is not happy about this
development. As Thomas Friedman, the director of the CDC, said in a
statement: "Many teens who start with e-cigarettes may be condemned
to... a lifelong addiction to nicotine."
The CDC's worry is that e-cigarettes are a gateway to the use of
real cigarettes: The same survey found that 76% of teenagers that
had smoked the electronic version had almost smoked the paper and
smoke version. Moreover, many experts and legislators argue that
flavored e-cigs are all the more alluring to high schoolers.
The jury is still out on the health effects of e-cigarettes.
found that they impair respiratory function while others claim
there are no ill health effects. In fact,
one research study
suggests that e-cigarettes are a helpful resource for smokers
looking to quit or lessen their habit.
E-cigarettes were introduced to the market just 10 years ago and
the industry is expecting to
surpass $1 billion in revenue
this year. Naturally, many of the big tobacco players, like
(MO), have e-cigarette holdings and are betting on that market to
continue its rapid rise in revenue. The FDA is currently mulling
over restrictions on how the new electronic nicotine products are
advertised and sold.
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