Google launched the lastest stable release of Chrome yesterday. The big update was the addition of tab syncing across all platforms using a Google ID that’s signed into Chrome. There was another update, however, that is much more valuable to developers.
Announced last year, Google’s Web Intents project is now available in the stable release of Chrome. As was explained last year, Web Intents is a joint project between Google and Mozilla to create a single API that unifies Web apps allowing them to cooperate with each other. Mozilla pushed out their version of the API last year, but Google has only just now pushed out Web Intents to the general public.
It’s important to note that the new version of the Web Intents API is by no means stable. It’s still very much experimental. Making Web apps work with each other takes a lot of work and the new API is no doubt going to cause a lot of bugs and crashes. That’s the point of an experimental release though. It’s better that Google gets more data from regular developers and users than just data from their own internal sources.
There are two main features that the Web Intents API offers to developers. It’s all about getting the basic functionality out first and seeing what works. The two main selling points for the API are:
Developers who build client apps will be able to easily include functionality from other web services (e.g., photo editing).
Developers creating those services will no longer need to invest time and resources to negotiate and build hardcoded integrations – they can just focus on offering a great quality product with the integration facilitated by the API.
This is only the beginning. Google has high hopes for the Web Intents API, but realizes that it’s just a baby at the moment. They fully expect the API to evolve in potentially “backwards-incompatible ways.” To help facilitate the experimental API, the current version is prefixed and only allows applications to be integrated from the Chrome Web Store. This restriction will be removed once the API becomes stable.
It’s super exciting to see Web Intents finally available. It’s a brave new world of interoperability within the Web. When apps start working together to provide superior services in a single app, it’s going to be a better world and Web.
If you want to start experimenting with Web Intents, check out Google’s guide on the new API. It has everything you need to get started on developing the new wave of Web apps.