See the bar of innovation? Ubuntu has just raised it again with the unveiling of new ‘web apps’ feature to debut in Ubuntu 12.10.

The feature allows webapps, sites and services to integrate directly into the Ubuntu desktop to take advantage of Ubuntu technology such as the app menu, the HUD,  the Messaging Menu, Sound Menu, Quicklists, etc

So, for example…

  • You open Last.Fm and start playing music > player controls for the site appear in the Sound Menu
  • Facebook open in a browser tab > notifications of new messages appear in the Messaging Menu
  • Get BBC News alerts via Notification Bubbles
  • Search your Google Docs files via the Dash

You can use Alt+Tab to switch between integrated sites just as though they were normal apps, and you can use the HUD to access common actions on certain websites/services – such as ‘compose new message’ in GMail.

And for added speed you can even pin your favourites to the Launcher.

And the best part? It’s all optional.

Visiting, for example GMail, will display a pop-down asking you if you want to integrate it into the desktop.

Unity web apps in Ubuntu

Click Yes and you get new new mail notifications via notify-OSD and the Messaging Menu, as well as access to common GMail features via the HUD and App Menu.

Click No and the website and your desktop remain separate.

Browser Support

Initially the Web Apps feature will support both Firefox and Chromium. Though with the code being readily available there is nothing to stop developers adding support for Unity Web Apps to other browsers like Epiphany or Midori.

‘App Showdown’

But have recent App Showdown entries like Fogger and Gwoffice stolen Ubuntu’s thunder in this area?

I woudn’t say so.

Just as there are various options when it comes to mail clients, web browsers and music players, there can be a selection of choices of web-app integration with the desktop. It’s all beneficial to the user.

But where Ubuntu’s implementation differs is in its breadth.

The idea solution would be to see those who have created apps of a similar nature help to hone Ubuntu’s implementation.

How to Install Unity Web App Feature

Want to try it? See this post for the lowdown on how to install it in Ubuntu 12.04 and Ubuntu 12.10. 

cloud quantal