In the middle of 2010, Google finally cut the ribbon on the Chrome Web Store, making .CRX web apps available to users of Google Chrome around the globe. At first it was a bit of a mess — themes were still hosted on the original gallery site — as were extensions, and the overall design was a bit of a throwback.
But that’s all changed today, as Google has taken the wraps off a totally redesigned Chrome Web Store. The landing page has a much cleaner layout than the original version and it also now feels a bit like the Android Market — which was overhauled earlier this year. A panel at the top of the page cycles through featured apps, and Google has enabled infinite scrolling below. Keep flicking your wheel, and Google will continue displaying additional apps for you.
Categories and a search box are provided on the left side, along with a link to popular downloads and Google’s curated collections. Detail pages have also been revamped, and there’s now a much greater emphasis on screenshots and videos. Details and user reviews have been moved to separate tabs.
There’s also more than a hint of tablet-friendliness (which probably won’t surprise faithful Geek readers): elements are generally larger and spaced to better accommodate finger taps. Tablet sales have now surpassed netbooks, and it’s known that Google is working on two of its own products that would benefit from this change. The first, of course, is a tablet-ready version of Chrome OS. The second is the Chrome browser, now thought to be headed to the Android OS — which is already powering millions of tablets.
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One of the great things about the Chrome browser is the ability to customize its appearance with the use of themes. The Chrome Web Store has a decent selection of themes to choose from, but if you’re not thrilled with the premade themes, you can create your own. Here’s how:
If you’re already familiar with JSON files, the Theme Creation Guide might be all you’ll need to get started For the rest of us, there’s a Web site called ChromeTheme.net that has a Web-based Chrome theme creator. We’ll go over some of the basics of using the Chrome Theme Creator to create, save, and install your own Chrome theme.
Step 1: Go to the Chrome Theme Creator. The left side of the page contains the tools for creating the theme, and the right side displays a preview.
Step 2: If you just want to use your own wallpaper in the large white space of Chrome and be done with it, upload the wallpaper at the theme_ntp_background image element, then move on to Step 3. To create a full theme, however, click through each tab to customize the image, color, and tint elements. Hovering over each element will bring up a tip box for that element and the preview area will display your changes as you make them.
Step 3: When you’ve finished creating your theme, go to the “Pack” tab and click the “Pack and install theme” button.
Step 4: At the Chrome prompt, click “Continue” to install the theme.
Step 5: If you don’t like the way the theme turned out, go back and modify the elements and reinstall the theme until you get it just the way you like it.
Step 6: Once you’ve finished designing your theme, click on the “Pack and download theme” button. This will pack the theme into a CRX file, which you can then save for later use.
Tip: If you’re having trouble figuring out what each element is, reference the Theme Creation Guide. It describes every theme element and also provides size suggestions for image elements.
That’s it. Now you can create your own Chrome themes and give your Web browser a little personal flair!
Screenshot by Ed Rhee)