Chrome Web Intents borrows Android app handling to beat local software

Google is looking to borrow some of Android's browser app integration with the development of Web Intents for Chrome. Intended to connect web apps to the browser and allow online services to integrate in a more streamlined fashion, the Chromium team at Google is working with Mozilla on a standardized API that could end up making web-based software behave more like standalone apps.

"Consider an online photo storage site run by a cash-strapped startup: the developers don't have the resources to add image editing abilities to their app, but they feel the site won't be a hit without it. The Web Intent system will make it easy for them to offer this with little effort" Google

Intents are used in Android, described as a "late run-time binding between components in the same or different applications." Basically, it uses generic actions – like sharing – which are recognized by apps, and allows the browser to pass on data without necessarily knowing anything about the app it's working with.

It's that level of intercommunication which Google (and Mozilla) wants to bring over to the desktop, with a set of generic "edit, view, share" commands that Chrome can call upon to integrate with any compatible web app. Best of all for developers, only a couple of lines of code would be required to enable the functionality, and Google is promising a Web Intent portfolio site so as to showcase exactly what can be achieved and prompt new developments.

Examples of the system can be explored here, including simple URL sharing and shortening, opening files and starting an action in a web-app, and picking images from a cloud-based service. Google's team says it's expecting to roll out a public test soon. When stable, it's likely we'll see Web Intents make a strong showing in the Chromebook project, which relies solely on web-apps rather than local software.