There’s a lot of innovation going on in the browser wars these days, with huge strides in features and performance from all the top vendors. And there’s a new feature on the horizon that’s going to make web apps even more powerful and flexible: Web Intents, which will allow web apps to communicate with each other.Today, Google has announced that it’s planning to integrate Web Intents into Chrome.
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 websites 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.
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.
On Android this means that if you install a new image editing application, the default Gallery app doesn’t have to integrate any special APIs in order to send a photo to that editing app. Likewise in the case of a web app, this means that a new photo hosting site could easily integrate editing functionality from something like Aviary or Picnik, without either of those services needing to implement a special API unique to that photo hosting site.
Bringing interactivity to Tweets that are displayed on the web.
Web Intents provide popup-optimized flows for working with Tweets & Twitter Users: Tweet, Reply, Retweet, Favorite, and Follow. They make it possible for users to interact with Twitter content in the context of your site, without leaving the page or having to authorize a new app just for the interaction. Web intents are mobile friendly, and super easy to implement.
Working with Web Intents