Chrome is evolving into much more than a browser, an a new experimental feature is making that clear. In Chrome Canary for Mac, activating a flag will allow you to open any type of file associated with an appropriate web app. The functionality really hammers home that Chrome is not about OS, it’s about utility.
If you’re not familiar with Chrome flags, they are features that aren’t set as default, but are available to us. By activating a flag, your browser will gain functionality after a re-start. In this instance, you will gain the ability to open files on your computer with a web app downloaded from the Chrome Web Store.
The example given by Chrome advocate Francois Beuafort is a TXT file being opened by a Web App. By right-clicking the file, selecting “Open With”, you see the corresponding Web App Chrome finds as useful for the file. What Chrome has essentially done is break down the barrier between browser and OS, offering up files on your computer to Web Apps.
The feature is limited to Mac right now, but the team is working on a Windows variant as well. According to Chrome team member Matt Guica, the reason it’s unavailable on Windows is because that platform recognizes everything Chrome does as “Google Chrome”, and “won’t let us change the name or icon, or associate a file type with multiple Chrome apps at the same time.” Keep in mind this is also limited to Chrome canary for Mac, which is a very raw build of the app.