The Amazon web app has been a part of the Ubuntu desktop for the past 8 years — now Ubuntu has decided to part with it.
First introduced in Ubuntu 12.10, the Amazon web launcher gives Ubuntu users an easy, out-of-the-box shortcut to the Amazon website.
And I do mean easy: an Amazon icon is pinned to the desktop launcher on all new installs by default.
But not for much longer.
Amazon Web App Removal
Ubuntu 20.04 ‘Focal Fossa’ will not include the Amazon web launcher, and neither will the next Ubuntu 18.04 LTS point release.
The change was revealed in a recent update to the
ubuntu-meta package in the ‘focal’ development builds. This explicitly drops the
ubuntu-web-launchers dependency in full.
And since the Amazon web app is the last remaining “shortcut” provided by this package it really does mean “adios Amazon!”.
For many the Amazon web launcher was synonymous with the Shopping Lens, Canonical’s poorly received decision to show Amazon product results in the stock app launcher whenever a user searched for an application or file.
But despite the assumption they were connected, they weren’t; uninstalling the launcher did not affect the scope, or vice versa.
From launcher to app to launcher
Over the course of eight years this little “launcher” underwent a number of changes, including a brief spell as a well-integrated web app running in a dedicated window with launcher quick-list, notification support, etc.
Thesedays it’s literally just a shortcut that opens a locale-specific version of the Amazon website a new browser tab (with Canonical’s affiliate code appended automatically so they can earn small % of sales made, giving users a passive way to support Ubuntu).
Will it be missed?
Probably not. For most, the Amazon web launcher was unwanted, and ignored. I find it hard to believe that any Ubuntu users will miss its inclusion (if they even notice that it’s gone in the first place).
And if they do? Well, Ubuntu still has a web browser that loads Amazon just fine!