Chrome extension lets users launch desktop apps from Google Drive

The product is an attempt to by Google to make its cloud services more interoperable with locally installed software

A new Chrome extension adds a desktop application launcher to Google Drive, as Google tries to bridge the interoperability gap between local software and its cloud services.

The browser plug in lets users right click on the icon of a file stored in Drive to trigger the appearance of a list of available applications installed on their computer, so they can pick one with which to open the file.

"When it comes to browsers and installed applications working well together, they aren't quite on the same page," Rachel Barton, a Google Drive Product Manager, wrote in a blog post.

Files created with Google Docs and with Microsoft Office applications can be opened and edited in the Google cloud without requiring locally installed software, so the feature will prove useful for files that require specific local programs, for things such as video editing, accounting and creating animations.

"So, no matter what you keep in Drive, using the web to access and manage files doesn't mean you're limited to using applications that only work in your browser," Barton wrote.

For the extension to work, users need to install the latest version of the Drive app for Mac OS or Windows -- version 1.18 -- and then sync their files.

If recent user reviews are any indication, the application launcher needs polishing. Seven out of 10 reviewers gave the product 1 star out of a possible 5, while another person gave it 2 stars. The most common complaint is that the plug-in doesn't display the application people need.

Juan Carlos Perez covers enterprise communication/collaboration suites, operating systems, browsers and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Juan on Twitter at @JuanCPerezIDG.

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Juan Carlos Perez

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