Mozilla has released more details about its soon-to-arrive Open Web Applications platform.
There are two key components: a directory where users can browse available web apps, and a new dashboard that will be baked into the browser interface, where users can install and manage their favorite apps.
The company published some technical documentation for developers so they can get to work retrofitting their apps with the code necessary to make them work with the new dashboard.
We first heard mumblings from Mozilla about this “Open app store” for the web back in May, only one day after Google announced its own app store for its Chrome browser and web-based Chrome OS. Google’s store is expected to make its full debut soon. The apps in Google’s store will be optimized for Chrome and may not work in other browsers, but Mozilla’s approach will list apps that work on “any modern browser with support for basic HTML technologies” — including mobile browsers. Mozilla says it will let each browser vendor dictate how it presents the app dashboards and management features.
So, app stores for web apps?
It doesn’t make much sense when coupled with what we’ve seen of “traditional” app stores — the ones popular in the mobile world, like those for Apple, Android and BlackBerry devices. But unlike those app stores, which actually involve downloading a package and installing it for offline use, a web app store is simply a directory of apps that are hosted on web servers.
In Mozilla’s model, users browse the app listings, where everything is categorized and rated. Developers can also host their own apps. Users click “install” on the ones they want, and those apps are added to a dashboard inside their browser.
It’s been mocked up for Firefox, and it looks something like this:
In the dashboard, you can manage how apps access your personal information, or uninstall them. Users don’t have to use the dashboard. They also have the option of saving a link on their desktop or mobile home screen for a single-click launch.