How to Get The New Web App Feature in Ubuntu Precise 12.04

Among several other features coming in the upcoming Ubuntu 12.10, Web App is an interesting one. This Web App feature allows websites, webapps and services to be integrated into Ubuntu desktop itself and accessed as a native Ubuntu feature from panel, unity dash, hud, messaging menu, sound menu etc.

In other words, when you use this Web App feature, you can see your Facebook notifications in the panel or in the messaging menu. You can also read your tweets in the messaging menu (no need to use Gwibber for Twitter anymore). You can play last.fm or grooveshark and control it through Ubuntu sound menu.

You can also get native Ubuntu notification bubble for news alerts from your favourite news site or access Google Docs from dash itself.

While using the Web App feature, you can use “Alt + Tab” to switch between these webapps/sites similar to what you use for regular Ubuntu apps. Initially, this feature will support only Firefox and Chromium but we can definitely expect it for other popular web browser soon. The official video from Ubuntu explains it better:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x7vF-AB7SF4

If you are eager to get your hands on this exciting new feature, you can install it using a PPA as it is not yet available in Ubuntu Software Center (not even in Ubuntu 12.10 development build). Use the following commands to install it:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:webapps/preview
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install unity-webapps-preview

It is approximately of 105 MB in size. If you want to speed up the installation process, use apt-fast instead of apt-get.

Now when you open Firefox or Chromium and open a website that is supported by Ubuntu Web App feature, it will ask for your permission to integrate it in Ubuntu. For example, when you open Gmail, it will ask for whether you want Gmail to be integrated:

Ubuntu-Web-App-gmail-integration

Once you integrate it, you can see all your Gmail activities in the messaging menu like this:

Ubuntu-Web-App-Gmail-system-tray

As you can see, you can change the Gmail chat status, see the number of unread mails in different folders. You can also compose new mails.

Similarly, you can integrate music streaming services in to Ubuntu and control them directly in to the Ubuntu sound menu. Take a look at Grooveshark inegration:

Ubuntu-Web-App-Grooveshark

Note: You need to be logged in the respective website otherwise you will not be asked for the integration. Also note that not all the websites are supported (as of yet). Though list of websites currently supported by Ubuntu Web App are available on the web.

The Web App option will NOT be coming to Ubuntu 12.04 LTS any time. It will be released with Ubuntu 12.10, thought it will be optional and will be available for download in the software centre.

What do you think of Ubuntu Web Apps? Is it something which you were missing in Ubuntu and will be happy to have it or you will avoid it and prefer to have a clean desktop rather than one cluttered with so many webapps?

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