Web Apps Update – experiments in Web Activities, App Discovery

Ben Adida

At Mozilla Labs, we’ve been experimenting with several concepts and ideas to build a Web of Apps. Today, we’re proud to release a new version of the experimental OpenWebApps add-on for Firefox that allows you to easily install and manage web applications in Firefox and aims to provide a tightly integrated app experience.

These features are aimed at developers and adventurous users and give you an idea of what to expect in the future. You can download the latest version of the add-on here.

With this release, you can try two new experimental features – Web Activities and App Discovery.

Web Activites

This experiment is focused around the concept of linking apps together.

For example, if you use Flickr to share photos, then the Flickr Web App should let you easily share and integrate your Flickr photos with other Web Apps. If you use Twitter to share links with your friends, then other Web Apps should allow you to easily share via Twitter.

To try out Web Activities, do the following:

  1. Install the Rainbooth Add-On.
  2. Take an awesome photo.
  3. Install and Authorize the Flickr Connector Web App (you’ll need a Flickr account).
  4. Click Send To in the Rainbooth Web App to automatically send the photo over to Flickr.

We’re working with Google’s Chrome team on this new feature.

App Discovery

This experiment is built around the notion that you should be able to discover interesting Web Apps as you browse the web. To try this, once you have installed the OpenWebApps add-on in Firefox, visit nytimes.com and you will see a prompt to install the awesome NY Times web app.

Note: We have faked this for the NY Times site to give you a sense and idea of what the experience might be as more web sites add support for browser-based App Discovery.

What Next?

As a developer, you can:

  1. turn your web page into an Open Web App by publishing a manifest
  2. play with Web Activites by declaring that you support certain services in your manifest, and implementing the service handlers.

As always, we would love to hear your feedback. Check out our github repository. File bugs. Join us on irc and join our Google Group.


The Mozilla Web Apps team