The app launcher serves as a quick access tool to apps and search
For the longest time, Chrome features and updates have been leaking towards Chrome OS, but it's now time to return the favor, one Chrome OS feature is making its way into Chrome, the app launched.When the new Aura desktop for Chrome OS was introduced, one interesting feature was the app launcher.
It housed all installed apps and freed up the Chrome new tab page for visited sites and similar features.
It also made it easier to launch apps without going into Chrome, though that's not much of an issue in Chrome OS where you're always running the browser.
Now though, the app panel has made its way into Chromium and will land in Chrome 25 as soon as it makes it to the dev channel, still occupied by Chrome 24. It should be available in Chrome Canary as well.
Much like in Chrome OS, the launcher pins itself to the dock and enables quick access to any Chrome app you have installed.
If you want to listen to some music in your favorite streaming service, send a quick email and so on, it's a great shortcut.
But that's not all it does, it also works as quick search box, powered by Chrome's Omnibox, so you get suggestions from your history, bookmarks, as well as search results. If you want the full results, you'll be directed to a full search page though.
Overall, it's a nice addition, one that shows Google's ambitions beyond just the browser.
Still, for the time being, mobile is dominating, so Google has plenty of work convincing people that the web and its apps are the future.
The feature is not enabled by default, so if you want to try it out you need to enable the "Show Chrome/Chromium Apps Launcher" flag in chrome://flags.