Google announced via the Chromium blog that it is working on the Web Intents framework, which will essentially manifest itself as an API that will allow web apps to communicate with one another, similar to how Android apps can.
The company is working with Mozilla to unify this along with a similar project it is working on. The goal is to create a single API. Mozilla released the OpenWebApps add-on for Firefox about a month ago. It’s all about 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,” said Ben Adida, Tech Lead for Identity at Mozilla. “If you use Twitter to share links with your friends, then other Web Apps should allow you to easily share via Twitter.”
The Web Intents, which Google speaks of, is described as a framework for client-side service discovery and inter-application communication. “Services register their intention to be able to handle an action on the user’s behalf,” explains WebIntents.org. “Applications request to start an Action of a certain verb (share, edit, view, pick etc) and the system will find the appropriate Services for the user to use based on the user’s preference.”
Google software engineer James Hawkins explains, “In today’s browser ecosystem, web apps are completely disconnected or require the use of complicated APIs in order to make use of a third-party service, e.g., posting a comment to Twitter from your custom publishing domain. What if we could give sites the ability to leverage these services without any knowledge of the chosen service, except that it provides some set of predefined functionality?”
“Android OS addresses this problem with Intents, a facility for late run-time binding between components in the same or different applications,” he continues. “In the Intents system, the client application requests a generic action, e.g. share, and specifies the data to pass to the selected service application. The user is given a list of applications which have registered that they can handle the requested intent. The user-selected application is created in a new context and passed the data sent from the client, the format of which is predefined for each specific intent type.”
He says the API will provide the same benefits of Android Intents, but better suited for web apps. Suffice it to say that web apps should be getting more interesting and useful.
This should help Google’s Chrome Web Store and Chrome OS.