Google opened up the Google I/O developer conference today with a couple of major announcements. First up, Google has announced plans for a new open source web video standard called WebM. Basically, Google is launching the VP8 video codec as open source today, and the new WebM format will use VP8 for video, OGG Vorbis for audio, and a container based on Matroska.

The format will let you watch web video without installing a browser plugin. Right now, Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, and Opera already support WebM, although Apple Safari and Microsoft Internet Explorer do not. And starting today, Google will encode all 720p and higher resolution video uploaded to YouTube in the WebM format.

Google also introduced a web app store for Google Chrome today. The store is designed to make it easy to find web apps and integrated them into the Chrome web browser and upcoming Chrome operating system. Basically, it will be a discovery engine/marketplace for web apps like Google Docs, Zoho, Twitter, Facebook, Gmail, and so on. Users will be able to create shortcuts for apps in the store — and developers will be able to either give away access to web apps for free or charge for access using Google’s payment system.

The Chrome Web Store won’t be available until later this year. But TechCrunch snagged some screenshots, including the one shown above, which demonstrates how apps will look different than normal browser tabs.

Google also announced that it’s opening up Google Wave to the public today. Late last year the company described Wave as essentially being what email would look like if it were invented today. It’s a collaboration tool that lets you create online conversations, embed rich media, links to web sites, and other data.

It’s kind of what you would get if you crossed email with a Wiki… and a user forum… and a social network. If you still don’t get it, just check out the video after the break. But the big news is that Google says Wave is now faster and more stable. And you don’t need an invite to use it. Just sign up at

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