Google forces developers to make Chrome extensions 'simpler'

When it comes to browsers, Firefox had long been the king of the customization. The browser revolutionized the usage of themes and extensions to allow the user to have a unique and personal experience. When Chrome was initially released, a lack of extensions caused many web users to turn their noses up at Google's browser. After all, if you want to release new product, it needs to at least surpass existing ones for people to notice.

Well, times have certainly changed -- Chrome has usurped Firefox in both customization and usage statistics. Google's browser has an amazing selection of extensions and themes. In fact, the browser has proved so important and popular, that it even spawned an operating system based on it -- Chrome OS. However, Google now announces that it is changing the policy regarding extensions in the Chrome Web Store. But, is this a good or a bad change?

"Today we're announcing an update to the Chrome Web Store policy: extensions in the Chrome Web Store must have a single purpose that is narrow and easy-to-understand. While this has always been the intent of the Chrome extension system, not all extensions have lived up to this ideal. These multi-purpose extensions can crowd your browser UI and slow down your web browsing -- sometimes significantly. We're making this policy change to fix these problems and give users more control over their browsing experience", says Erik Kay, Engineering Director, Chrome.

Sounds good right? Well, not so fast. Google is taking a paternalistic approach to policing the  Chrome Web Store and not everyone will appreciate that. Maybe a "multi-purpose" extension is what a developer wants to make and what a user wants to install. In other words, if it slows down the experience, so be it -- no one is forcing the user to install the extension.

Kay further says, "we realize that this will require significant changes for some existing extensions. Some may need to be split into multiple separate extensions. Developers may need to switch to a different approach to monetization, which we've recently made easier by adding payment options to extensions. Since these changes may take some time to implement, we're not going to start enforcing the policy for existing extensions in the Web Store until June 2014. For new extensions, the policy will go into effect immediately".

So, existing extensions must be updated by June of 2014 or developers will feel Google's wrath. While I am sure Google's intentions are good, forcing developers is never a good idea. Yes, users may have a faster experience as a result, but users and developers should be empowered to make their own decisions as to what they create and install.

Do you think Google is right? Tell me in the comments.

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