August 11, 2011, 7:48 AM — It's been a good week for Chrome OS fans, hasn't it? Wait, you hadn't noticed? Let me explain.
The first news, and this is Chromebook-specific, is that Netflix now works under Chrome OS. I gave it a shot and even my basic CR-48 handled things pretty well, though it was limited to Standard Definition streaming (which is understandable given the modest hardware in the CR-48). According to the Chrome OS help page for Netflix, it sounds like the Samsung and Acer Chromebooks don't have this limitation. If you want to learn a bit more about Netflix for Chromebooks, it was offically announced via Google+ by Google's Melissa Daniels. She fields some "questions from the audience" in the comments of the post.
So that's nice, but what else? Well yesterday Amazon quietly rolled out the Kindle Cloud Reader, an HTML5 based reader for your Kindle e-books. Amazon and the general blogging press are playing up how well Kindle Cloud Reader works on Apple's iPad, and while giving iPad owners a reading experience that includes easy access to the Kindle book store may have been the point, the fact is the Kindle Cloud Reader works really nicely on a ChromeBook too. You might want to go into the settings and adjust the margins, and you'll have to click to turn pages, but these are pretty minor issues. Yes, Whispersync works, too, so you can go from reading on your actual Kindle at home to picking up where you left off on your Chromebook via Cloud Reader.
And there's still more. Streaming movie service Vudu.com also announced iPad compatibility today. Rather than an app they've gone with an HTML5 client, and that means good performance under Chrome OS. I have to be perfectly honest, I never tried Vudu on the CR-48 before today, but generally I haven't been all that impressed with Flash video on the little guy. In my experince, HTML5 players have always worked better. During a quick test Vudo on the CR-48 stuttered a little in the preview window but once I went full screen the framerate smoothed out. Again, I'd expect the newer Chromebooks to handle this even better.
I'm finding it ironic and a bit amusing that Apple's iPad is driving companies towards offering new versions of their services that work so nicely on Google's platform, but I'm certainly not going to look a gift horse in the mouth. And while this is happening, Chrome OS itself is gradually improving. Now we have books, music, movies and TV streaming to our Chromebooks. What's missing? What would you like to see next for Chrome OS (aside from lower prices for the hardware; that's a given)?
Read more of Peter Smith's TechnoFile blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Peter on Twitter at @pasmith. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.