Apps, Plugins and Extensions – All About Chrome

Apps, Plugins and Extensions – All About Chrome

Dennis Snider

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Google Chrome is everywhere. As the best-supported web browser, its functionality is far beyond that of its competitors. With never-ending integrations and features, Google Chrome is supported by a range of apps, plugins and extensions. So then… what’s the difference?

Ambiguity and apps
Confusingly, Google refers to its apps as extensions and vice versa. This is the first point to note.

Once upon a time, the Web Store had a clear ‘app’ section for desktop apps. In late 2017, this changed, and the lines were blurred.
For the average PC user, Chrome apps and extensions are now one and the same. If you need an ad blocker, for example, you can search for a ‘Chrome app’ or a ‘Chrome extension’. Either way, you’ll find what you need. What you get, though, will be an extension.

What’s an extension?
Thankfully, extensions are a little easier to grasp. These are simply add-ons that improve your browsing experience. These can be ad-blockers, dictionaries, data savers and so forth. There are countless extensions in the Web Store. When installed, your extension will have a small icon at the top-right of your browser. Click on it to learn more.

Plugins
Finally, a plugin represents a series of web code that allows developers to embed videos, animations and features within their websites. While these once included things like Adobe Flash Player, Chrome PDF Viewer and Java, these days, security issues mean that Chrome has removed its support for many plugins. For the key plugins such as Flash Player, functionality is controlled through Chrome’s own settings. Much like apps, plugins are being phased out or integrated into the browser itself. It’s all very technical.

In summary, for most things, you’ll need an extension. Phew!

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