Mozilla is fighting against the notion of closed platforms and device-specific app stores with its “Open Web Applications” platform which launched this week.
It’s part of Mozilla’s plans to avoid issues with “interoperability, portability and lock-in.” In May 2010, Mozilla’s vice president of products Jay Sullivan detailed the company’s ambitions to support “the needs of Web developers in their efforts to develop websites and apps that aren’t bound to a specific browser.”
Proprietary app hubs in places like Google’s Chrome browser and Apple’s fleet of operating systems and devices, explained Sullivan, bog down developers with different programming languages, varying SDKs, stringent review processes and a limited reach. In Mozilla’s typically open style, the Open Web Applications platform hopes to avoid all of these foibles.
This is just the first implementation of the idea. In a video, Mozilla labs programmer Lloyd Hilaiel showed the company’s ambitious plans for the future of these apps. “Web apps give the user a simple way to tell the browser what sites they care about,” says Hilaiel, before going on to show “what’s possible when the browser has this information.”
Not only will you be able to launch apps from a single click or a few keystrokes, you’ll be able to pull data from apps into webpages with a few clicks. You could regulate all online purchases through a finances app, or easily find your friends on a new social network or website, just by importing your browser’s address book.
The apps can also manifest themselves as widgets, like miniaturised version of programs and sites such as stocks, weather, Facebook and Spotify, which can be docked to the browser window or even zapped to your mobile device to act as a widget or icon on your Android homescreen.