Google marked the fifth anniversary of Chrome yesterday by launching a packaged app store for the browser. Some of the initial services supported include 500pxPixlr Touch UpThe Economist and Pocket, but an app from US-Singapore startup Nitrous.IO is also of note since it can turn Chrome OS-powered devices into powerful hardware platforms for developers.

Like the regular cloud-based Nitrous.IO service, the packaged Chrome app provides a full Linux environment replete with a powerful set of near-native tools and features, alongside easy configuration for Ruby, Python, Go and NodeJS templates.

Users can remote pair programs in their browser or terminal with colleagues, and the Web-based nature of the service makes their work accessible from a range of devices including Chromebooks, SSH, Web Browser, the iPad or Android tablets.

SytFeSh 520x327 Nitrous.IOs packaged Chrome app turns even a $200 Chromebook into a developer machine

You may initially assume that a packaged app — and this is the first and only development app in the store right now — is strictly for novices. While the Web-based platform does suit new users, it has the capacity to create sophisticated apps and services, such as front-end development platform Divshot and software development team Tilde, both of which use Nitrous.IO.

“I’ve dreamed of a Web-only development environment for years,” said Divshot’s Michael Bleigh. “With Nitrous.IO, Divshot, and my Chromebook Pixel, I’ve stopped dreaming and started working.”

The Nitrious.IO app is also available for Window and OSX-powered devices — we’ve written more about the service, which was formerly Action.IO, here – but its real potential comes when it is used on a Chromebook machine.

Given the relatively low cost of a Chromebook — which are available from upwards of just $199 – the team tells TNW that it believes its app can help “democratize” coding and bring the opportunity to develop to more people.

Indeed, there is much potential in countries like Malaysia, where the government has adopted Google Apps and Chromebooks for its students.

➤ Nitrous.IO | Chrome Packaged App

Headline image via AFP/Stringer