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Chrome 42 Beta Blurs The Line Between Websites And Apps

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Google has released Chrome 42 beta for Windows, Mac, Linux and Android, adding new features like push notifications, ES6 classes and "Add to Home Screen" promotion on Android.

Chrome has fast become more than simply a browser, now being a major platform for developers to consider. With regular updates, developers have to work hard to keep up with changes.

One of the most prominent new features is push notifications. Through two new APIs, Google allows users to receive push notifications even after the page is closed, provided, of course, that users grant permission to the page for this to happen.

Another feature that Google is a new "App Install Banner," which essentially allows a website to show a prompt to a user asking if they want that website to be added to the user's home screen. Essentially, Google is encouraging users to pin shortcuts to websites that they regularly visit to their home screen, meaning they will interact with websites in a similar way they do apps.

"In this release, users who frequently visit a high-quality Web app will see a banner that allows them to add the site to their home screen in one tap," said Google in a blog post detailing the new release. "Sites that wish to take advantage of this new feature must meet eligibility criteria that ensure that users have a good experience when launching sites from the home screen, even when offline."

This is pretty big news for how users interact with the Web in general. With push notifications and app install support, websites are continuously becoming on par with native apps. Websites will, in a way, imitate native apps going forward. It is likely that other similar features will be added to other Web browsers in the near future.

In fact, Apple's Safari web browser can already send push notifications for websites, although that feature is only available for OS X users and not yet iOS users. Google is really pushing it as a cross-platform feature that will work on both mobile and desktop platforms.

It's important to note that these features are only in the beta version of Google's Chrome browser for now, but they will very likely be implemented into the consumer version of the browser within the next few updates of Chrome.

Chrome, which was launched in 2008, has fast become one of the most popular Web browsers because of its ease of use and versatility in regards to extensions and other features.

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