Google Chrome’s much touted taskbar pinning feature lets you easily access web apps from your desktop, without pulling up bookmarks or typing in URLs. This popular feature is replicated in the latest version of Microsoft Internet Explorer. While there’s no evidence that IE9 directly stole the idea from Chrome, the two taskbar pinning features have a lot in common—yet they aren’t exactly alike.
If you are trying to decide whether to use IE9 for pinning your web apps or Chrome, then check out this quick comparison.
Why Pin Web Apps?
The idea behind pinning web apps to your desktop, Start Menu or Windows taskbar is similar to installing apps on your smartphone’s home screen. Web apps, unlike true desktop software, run completely on the web. You don’t download any software, install any configuration files or update any drivers to use web apps. Instead, the entire functionality of the web app is contained within your browser window. Popular web apps include Aviary, YouTube, Pandora, Grooveshark, Tweetdeck and Hulu.
A web app on your desktop is essentially a shortcut. It allows you to access your favorite web apps without opening a browser window. Instead, the pinned web app shortcut is given its own dedicated browser window that is separate from your current browsing activity. In this way, it behaves more like a desktop application.
What’s the Same?
Both Internet Explorer 9 and Google Chrome 10 allow you to pin any website to your taskbar, Start Menu or desktop. This is a dedicated launcher for your web app. Pinning a website in Chrome is as easy as navigating to the site and clicking Settings > Tools > Create Application Shortcut. Likewise, Internet Explorer 9 makes it easy, by requiring you only to navigate to a website and then drag and drop the website’s favicon to your taskbar.
IE9 has a one up on Google Chrome’s pinned taskbars. Namely, jump lists. To promote its web app pinning features, IE9 has partnered with several popular websites, such as Hulu and Facebook, to create jump lists for pinned websites. If a web app has a jump list, you can right-click it on your taskbar and quickly jump to some frequently visited areas within the app. For example, in the Facebook jump list, there are links to Messages, News, etc. This feature does not yet exist in Chrome.
However, Chrome’s web apps are a little bit more immersive. Whereas Internet Explorer opens your web app in a normal browser window, replete with the address bar, browser controls and any other clutter that usually exists in your browser window, Chrome strips out all of the unnecessary items and dedicates the window fully to the web app that you’ve chosen to launch. For some users, this helps the mindset that they are using a standalone app, rather than visiting a web page.
There are other benefits to using Chrome for web apps as well. In benchmark tests, Chrome performed much faster than IE9 while running intensive interactive websites. This was especially true when compared to the 64-bit version of IE9.
If you haven’t already begun using Chrome as your primary browser, the rise of web apps and the convenience of pinned websites may convince you.