Websites will be able to hook into the Ubuntu desktop in the Linux distro's next release - allowing, for example, users to receive "new message" pings from webmail services.
Canonical boss and spaceman Mark Shuttleworth announced the availability of "web apps" in Ubuntu 12.10, due in October, at OSCON, Canonical marketing veep Steve George blogged. The new feature will make it possible for users to quickly jump to the likes of Facebook, Twitter, Last.FM, eBay and GMail from the desktop, he added.
To access a web app, visit a website participating in Canonical's project, click on a link and an icon is added to Ubuntu's left-hand launcher. Clicking on the icon will either take you to a tab in your browser where the site is already running, or open a new browser instance. This is roughly akin to pinning websites to the task bar in Microsoft’s Internet Explorer to easily access sites.
However, there are extra abilities: notifications from websites can be displayed in the Ubuntu Message Centre, Last.fm's playback can be controlled from the operating system's sound menu, and photos can be uploaded to Facebook from the desktop, for example.
Ubuntu-maker Canonical claims to have turned 40 popular websites into web apps with “plenty more on the way". George said web apps were a part of Canonical’s “drive to make the web a first-class part of Ubuntu".
The apps will integrate with the Ubuntu Launcher, the distro's apps-and-files finder Dash and the menu-free Head Up Display that was introduced with 12.04 LTS.
Ubuntu Web Apps will be released as a preview for Ubuntu 12.04 LTS “soon” and made available in Ubuntu 12.10. ®