The latest Beta release of Chrome includes an important update: a first release of Native Client. This is a new launch which is designed to work with a plugin called Pepper and allows the browser to harness the power of computing hardware to run applications over the cloud.
Much has been talked about Native Client as it has been in Chromium as well as the Developer builds for some time. But it’s clear from Google’s pronouncements that the company wants developers to utilize the Native Client SDK to develop powerful applications right inside of the browser. That’s further aided by some security improvements that have been added: there is now an outer sandbox implemented and a method for auto-updating in case security fixes are required.
The release has support for computing, audio, and 2D graphics capabilities. Coming soon are APIs for APIs for 3D graphics, local file storage, WebSockets and peer-to-peer networking. Software companies that have process intensive offerings should take note, as preparing web-based versions of their applications would likely give them an advantage over their competition for the impending launch of Chrome OS.
And that’s what makes Native Client so important to Google’s strategy. It needs developers to adopt the platform, and because of this is making sure that the right tools are available to create applications that can be just as powerful as the native ones we use today.
If you’re already using Chrome 10, you can turn on Native Client by typing “about:flags” into the Omnibox and selecting the option in the list that appears. There are some basic examples of Native Client in action at the Google Labs site. You can also leanr more with Google’s documentation available here. What applications are you hoping Native Client will help bring to the web? Gaming? Skype? Powerful apps?