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The upcoming launch of the Chrome Web Store will replace the existing official Chrome extensions site and place both webapps and extensions under one single directory. But for many people, there is some difficulty in distinguishing the difference between applications and extensions.
In order to stave off any confusion, an article has been published in Google’s Code Labs to help explain the difference. Basically, an application is something that has its own UI and is displayed in the browser window. Separately, extensions notify and otherwise enhance the web experience.
The article also explains further for developers’ proper packaging standards in the “.crx” format as well as information about permissions for auto-updating. What’s interesting as well is the difference between hosted apps and packaged apps, whereby the latter will be able to run web applications off of the hard drive while the former simply directs a user to a secure web location using a manifest.json file.
Packaged apps offer an interesting bridge between extensions and hosted apps. They contain all of the elements needed to run the webapp, but right off of the internal storage. This is a smart way to run things; many believe that everything will run off of bandwidth which is not completely true and will help to give users a better experience in some cases.