Chrome Extensions vs Add-ons

Recently, we announced that we are limiting staff to approved Extensions (we have been limiting students to approved extensions for quite a while). Staff can request additional extensions. This may be a good time to explain the difference between an Extension and an Add-on. (As a bonus, Web Apps will also be discussed).

Extensions

Extensions allow you to customize the browser experience. Extensions can add functionality, tailor browser behavior to individual preferences, or integrate another application into the browsing experience. Extensions can be found in the browser just after the Omnibox (URL box). You can also find the extensions that you’ve installed by clicking on the triple buttons | More tools… | Extensions link.

Extension Examples:

Here are just a few popular examples:

  • One Tab – Condense all your open windows to one web page.
  • Hypothes.is – Annotate and Bookmark web pages. You can join or create Groups as well.
  • Monosnap – Take screenshots, record video, add arrows, boxes and more. Great for creating visual directions.

Add-ons

Add-ons are extra tools that extend the use of Docs, Sheets, Forms, and Slides. These “add on” functionality to those programs. Add-ons are installed within each application. You would visit the Add ons Menu.

Add-on Examples:

  • AutoCrat – Mail merge for Docs.
  • Grackle Docs – Make your Docs ADA compliant. (This is an exciting new feature that the district is rolling out to all users – look for more information soon).
  • QR Code generator – makes QR codes.

All users should be careful with Add-ons. Generally, you are granting these add-ons the ability to see and manipulate your data. Although we are not limiting Add-ons at this time, we are monitoring the landscape for these as well.

Web Apps

Web Apps are a third category of applications that use a browser. These are applications that run within a browser. These are “stand-alone” applications that will run within their own tab.

Final Thoughts

The world is definitely changing. Many things that we do are getting easier and easier. To quote the wonderful “Hamilton” broadway play, “how lucky we are to be alive right now”.  With all the great features and powerful opportunities, we need to change and adapt to the new landscape. Unfortunately, those with bad intent are changing as well. Thus, we have to constantly monitor our safety and security.

It can be challenging to understand the differences among an Extension, Add-on, and Web App. The important part is to understand what permissions you are giving. It is really important that you understand the end effect of these applications.

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