Web apps, interact with me!
I love web apps. So I wanted to see how Chromium’s latest support for web apps is like. After all, they’re going to have an “app store” of web apps. Here’s what I saw:
I hate to be a downer, but a pinned tab with an icon on it and removing the browser chrome doesn’t make it an “application”, if I wanted that I’d browse in full screen all day! While I love Chrome’s app mode and Mozilla Prism I think people are missing the point. Look at this tutorial on Mashable on how to use Google Buzz as a desktop app. Searching for web apps for other sites gives you similar results. Take existing website, fullscreen it, and we’re done.
This isn’t what I had in mind when people told me about web applications! I was thinking more like this (thanks to Ken for the GIMP mockup):
I wish web app developers would take into account of how much better their “application” could be if it took advantage of being an actual application. We know you can drag and drop stuff on web apps, etc. One app that did this well (for it’s time) was the original Google Talk widget, when you throw it in app mode it looks pretty decent (ignore that it’s Flash):
Ok, not bad, unfortunately when you chat with a person it opens a tab in there instead of opening a window for you to chat with the person like a traditional app. But we’re getting closer! Now look at these two:
Now this is what I think of when people say “web applications”. The Google Buzz “desktop app” is really the mobile Buzz site wrapped in Chrome. It reflows text when you resize it, and works how you think it should work. Compare that to Mashable’s solution of just fullscreening Gmail. I can move this window around and do what I want to it. Google has basically already created a cross platform Buzz desktop client! (But you have to know how to wrap the mobile site in app mode, lame).
And look at the Zoho example! The skin is a knock off of the Office 2003 UI, but that’s an implementation detail; You’d have a hard time convincing people that was a web application at first glance. I think apps like Meebo could be so much more engaging if I could break them out of the browser and onto my desktop.
Make it so when I double click on documents in my file manager that it opens the word processor app already “prismed” up, when I “install Seesmic web” I get an icon on my desktop that I can interact with; I like to alt-tab, minimize and interact with web applications too. Otherwise, it’s just a bunch of tabs with web sites in them, and I already have that!
UPDATE: Bigger pics of my screenshots are here.